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Nassau County Criminal Defense Law Blog

New crackdown on synthetic marijuana

New York residents might benefit from understanding more about why Boston took the initiative to ban synthetic marijuana throughout the municipality. The city-wide ban on purchasing, selling or using synthetic marijuana, otherwise known as "Spice" or "K2", was inspired by the alarming number of deaths the substance has been linked to across the country.

This new substance is not made of marijuana, but is comprised of plant materials mixed together and treated with a combination of chemicals designed to produce a similar sensation as THC. However, medical professionals claim that this drug makes users behave more erratically, and that it is more potent than marijuana. In June, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a warning that the number overdoses and deaths caused by this substance had begun to increase recently.

Girls in Slender Man sacrifice case to be tried in adult court

Most juvenile crimes in New York are unlike the case of two 13-year-old girls charged in the stabbing attack of another girl. At their hearing, the judge insisted that the character of their alleged crime demanded a response at an adult level. He reasoned that if they were convicted in the juvenile system, then they would be released at age 18.

Currently, they are accused of attempted first-degree intentional homicide. Convictions could lead to 65 years in prison. When the girls remained silent in the courtroom, the judge entered not guilty pleas on their behalf.

Drones used to move heroin across border

New York residents might want to know about recent developments involving the use of drones to transport drugs from Mexico into the United States. Two California men pleaded guilty in federal court on Aug. 11 to operating drones loaded with heroin in an attempt to smuggle the drugs across the border with Mexico.

According to authorities, the two El Centro men allegedly traveled to an empty area of Calexico, California in April in order to collect almost 30 pounds of heroin smuggled from Mexico via drone. One of the men, aged 18, purportedly piloted the drone from the border to its landing spot in a field, while another 19-year-old man loaded its illegal cargo into the trunk of a vehicle. A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesperson described this incident as perhaps the first drug-related seizure involving a drone along the US-Mexico border. Mexican authorities, however, claim that a drone carrying approximately several pounds of methamphetamine crashed in a Tijuana store parking lot just across the border from San Diego in January.

5 accused of shipping drugs in birthday packages

On Aug. 12, it was reported that New York authorities seized five kilograms of drugs that were allegedly being smuggled in the disguise of children's birthday presents. Authorities stated that the drugs were seized in the span of two weeks.

Authorities reportedly learned of the alleged scam during a wiretap investigation, and they ultimately intercepted five packages in total that contained more than $220,000 worth of drugs. Officials stated that one of the packages was wrapped in pink paper and had been placed in a birthday bag with a stuffed toy. A second package was mailed with a doll. All five packages were sent through the U.S. Postal Service.

Understanding the juvenile system

Some families in New York may benefit from finding out more about the existing dynamics that are prevalent in the U.S. juvenile system. Over the last 16 years, U.S. incarceration rates for juveniles have dropped by about 50 percent. The result is that more minors have been sentenced to probation instead. Some public advocates claim that the transition toward doling out more probation and less time in juvenile hall has caused more problems for the youth in America.

For many juveniles, the introduction into the probation system only increases the likelihood that they will be a part of the correctional system later in life. Juveniles on probation have to deal with a litany of stipulations that are often far more subjective than those imposed against adults.

Swiss citizen accused of Libor rate manipulation

On Aug. 3, it was reported that a U.S. district judge ruled that a Swiss citizen who was accused of being involved in Libor rate manipulation would not have his case dismissed. The judge stated that the citizen was flouting the United States judicial process by having his lawyers ask for a dismissal while he remained in Switzerland.

The judge reportedly made the ruling hours after the man's co-defendant was sentenced to 14 years in a similar case in London. The co-defendant was found guilty of conspiring to rig Libor interest rates. It was believed that the Swiss citizen, who worked in Singapore, Zurich and Tokyo, conspired with his co-defendant to commit wire fraud. This was reportedly done by submitting yen Libor opinions that were designed to benefit his co-defendant.

NBA player facing felony drug possession charges

Basketball fans in New York may be familiar with the NBA star Mike Scott, who averaged 7.8 points per game for the Atlanta Hawks during the 2014-15 NBA season. The 27-year-old forward recently completed his third season with Atlanta, but his future with the Hawks may be in doubt as he was taken into custody by a Georgia sheriff's office following a traffic stop on July 30.

According to a police report, an SUV that Scott was riding in was signaled to pull over after deputies say they saw it following another vehicle too closely on Interstate 85 north of Atlanta. The SUV allegedly traveled approximately two miles and reached speeds of up to 98 mph before pulling over as directed. Deputies say that Scott's 20-year-old brother was driving the SUV.

Drug-sniffing dogs and warrantless searches

In many New York drug cases involving car stops, law enforcement officers rely on drug-sniffing K-9 dogs to detect the presence of illicit substances. If a dog hits, the positive sniff test has been historically considered to be sufficient probable cause for the police to then conduct a warrantless search of the vehicle and its occupants.

A recent case in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit may establish a new precedent for courts nationwide. In the case leading to appeal of a lower court decision of a man who was convicted of drug possession and received a 20-year sentence, the police had used a K-9 dog to sniff and establish probable cause for the search of his vehicle. While the appellate court upheld his conviction because it found there were other indicators that rose to the level of probable cause, including the man's behavior and giving answers that conflicted with one another, the court was not satisfied with the dog's success rate.

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.