Lerner & Lerner, P.C.

Former prosecutors with more than 50 years combined experience

Nassau County Criminal Defense Lawyers
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Nassau County Criminal Defense Law Blog

New York rapper accused of having weapons in prison

It was reported on July 24 that a New York rapper who was accused of a violent crime involving drugs was facing additional charges for promoting prison contraband after allegedly getting a hold of a knife while he was at Rikers Island. It was believed his girlfriend was involved in providing him with the weapon.

A Bronx district attorney stated that, on July 21, the 20-year-old rapper's 18-year-old girlfriend was seen removing what appeared to be a homemade knife from underneath her bra. She then reportedly handed it to the rapper. The rapper was then accused of lying about the incident to the court.

New York ciminal defense and alternative sentencing

New York judges have some degree of discretion in handing down sentences in certain types of criminal cases. Sentences for major offenses are often prescribed by state or federal law and afford the judge significantly less latitude than in more minor cases. However, in many situations, alternative sentencing is becoming more popular, giving the accused a chance to demonstrate ongoing compliance with the law to the court's satisfaction. There are many reasons an alternative sentence may be a viable option.

A criminal defense attorney may seek alternative sentencing in the case of a client who does not have a prior criminal record. The client's age, prior conduct, remorse in front of the court and the overall effect of the alleged offense on any victims are all possible factors in obtaining alternative sentencing. The type of offense and its severity are generally key considerations, and ideally judges will take all these matters into account.

Defense of New York theft cases

Every year, many New York residents find themselves charged in cases involving allegations of theft. Many believe they have no recourse other than to plead guilty. There are several possible defenses available to people who have been issued these charges, even when the person charged actually took the property in question.

A person who took property that belonged to another but was intoxicated at the time may have a defense to the charge based on their intoxication. When an intoxication defense is asserted, they will need to show that they were intoxicated to a degree that they did not knowingly take the property. For example, this may work if they were so intoxicated at the time they believed it to be theirs.

Obama commutes sentences for 46 people

New York residents may have heard about President Obama's recent action to commute the sentences of 46 federal inmates, most of whom were serving long prison sentences for nonviolent drug offenses. According to a statement released by the White House, many of the people whose sentences were commuted would have been sentenced to shorter sentences if they had been convicted under today's laws.

The recent commutations mean that Obama has now commuted sentences for almost 90 inmates, most of whom were nonviolent drug offenders. In a blog posted by the White House, a spokesperson characterized the sentences as unduly harsh, pointing to the fact that under federal laws, some drug offenders face up to life in federal prison for their crimes.

Tax fraud in New York

To many New Yorkers, the IRS is scary, and some people worry that when they make mistakes on their taxes, the IRS will prosecute them criminally for doing so. Since tax forms are complicated, the IRS doesn't consider simple errors that might cause someone to underpay on their taxes to be tax fraud, however. While the person who has made such an error will have to pay what they should have paid to the IRS, mistakes are not a crime.

Tax fraud instead often involves a purposeful effort to hide income in order to underpay taxes. For example, a waiter who doesn't report all of their earned tips on their income tax return has committed tax fraud, as has a small business owner who doesn't report all of their income or inflates their losses.

Defenses to murder in New York

When an individual is charged with murder in the second degree in New York, it does not mean that he or she committed the crime. An attorney may come up with several defenses against the charge at trial or in the hopes of having the charge dismissed prior to a trial. A common defense is to argue that the defendant did not commit the crime that he or she is accused of taking part in.

Another defense may be to argue that the defendant was intoxicated at the time of the murder. While voluntary intoxication is generally not an excuse for committing a crime, involuntary intoxication may be. In some cases, it may be possible to claim that the defendant is not guilty due to insanity.

Mail carrier allegedly stole $1 million in tax refunds

A New York mail carrier is accused of participating in the theft of more than $1 million in tax refunds from the Internal Revenue Service. The 36-year-old Brooklyn man was arrested on July 2 at a Bronx post office and charged with theft of government funds and conspiracy.

According to court filings, the defendant allegedly used the names of people who lived along his delivery route to obtain IRS refund checks. His delivery route was in ZIP code 10460, which includes the Bronx Zoo and the West Farms neighborhood. He also reportedly used the stolen Social Security numbers of some Puerto Rican residents, who aren't required to file federal tax returns if their income was earned on that island.

Brass knuckles under New York law

In the state of New York, metal knuckles are illegal. Additionally, those that may be worn as jewelry around the neck on the fingers are considered to be concealed weapons in some states.

Brass knuckles have been glamorized due to their use in popular mass media, including in major TV shows and video games. However, it should be noted that these items are illegal in some states due to the dangers associated with them. Brass knuckles can cause serious injuries, which can include broken bones, concussions and damage to a person's eyes, nose and mouth. In most cases, these injuries can be permanently disfiguring. Death from these injuries are rare but not unheard of.

10 accused of being involved in New York drug rings

New York authorities reported on June 19 that two separate drug rings were allegedly busted in two cities. One of the alleged rings was located in Buffalo while the other was located in Dunkirk. It was believed by the authorities that the alleged ring in Buffalo was distributing heroin to up to 200 users per day while the alleged Dunkirk ring was involved in the distribution of cocaine.

Four individuals from the alleged Buffalo ring were taken into custody. Their ages ranged from 37 to 43. They were facing multiple drug charges, including intent to distribute and with distributing at least 100 grams of heroin. The remaining six individuals who were taken into custody were from the alleged Dunkirk ring. Their ages ranged from 28 to 40. All six were charged with distributing at least five grams of cocaine and with intent to distribute. One of the individuals, age 39, was additionally charged with maintaining a drug manufacturing premises, being in possession of a firearm as a felon and possession of a firearm to assist with drug trafficking.

New York defendants may benefit from Supreme Court ruling

In late June, the U.S. Supreme Court delivered an 8-1 decision in favor of a plaintiff who had three felony convictions. The man, who had been convicted for his third violent felony after being found in possession of a firearm in the mid 1980s, sought to have his jail term reduced. After initially reviewing his case, however, the Supreme Court also decided to challenge the relevant federal law, the Armed Career Criminal Act of 1984.

According to news reports, the 1984 statute permitted federal courts all over the nation to count prior convictions as violent felonies in a broad range of circumstances. This legislation was passed for political reasons when lawmakers wanted to portray themselves as having tough-on-crime attitudes. By letting courts deem past offenses as violent crimes even without even proving that violence had taken place, however, this law effectively established mandatory minimum sentences for numerous individuals.