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January 26, 2017

Criminal Law In The News For January 2017

By Michael H. Joseph

This week, sixteen people were arrested in Queens following a raid of an underground casino. The New York City Police department found not only gambling devices, but also found drugs. Presumably everyone present will be charged with possession of the drugs, but whose drugs were they. This unfortunately is an issue that our New York City criminal defense lawyers deal with frequently. It is fundamentally unfair that people who did not even know the drugs were present can be charged under the theory of constructive possession of drugs. Basically the government argues that a person’s presence at a location where drugs were present is sufficient to show constructive possession of the drugs. However, while merely sufficient to bring a charge, it is not enough to win a case because constructive possession of narcotics requires both knowledge that the drugs were present and evidence of some degree of control over the drugs.

The New York State police are presently searching for two individuals who used counterfeit money at a Mohegan Lake game stop. While counterfeiting may seem like a victimless crime, it has serious consequences because it is not only a violation of New York State law, but also violates federal law. Our Federal criminal defense lawyers who practice in Westchester, know that the penalties for a federal offense can be much more severe than for a state law charge.

Also, this week,A Mount Kisco woman was arrested and charged with stealing a wallet from a Yorktown wine bar. The woman is being charged with Grand Larceny in the Fourth degree. While stealing a wallet may seem like a petty crime, stealing a credit card is a felony, in and of itself, so there are serious consequences, which a lot of people don’t realize. Most people would think stealing a wallet would be a petty larceny, but the credit card creates significant consequences. For example if you steal a wallet which has only five or ten dollars, that is a petit larceny, but if there is a credit card in that wallet, it is now a felony, even if the person was not trying to steal the credit card.

Also this week, what started out as a bank robbery in Greenwich Connecticut, turned into a burglary and a home invasion in Port Chester, when the bank robber who was trying to get away, apparently ditched the car he was driving and broke into a Port Chester home. The Port Chester police recovered a handgun and if any prints or DNA were left on the gun, the perpetrator is sure to be found if he has any type of criminal record. For the last several years, everyone who has been convicted of even a misdemeanor in Westchester has had their DNA taken, which is stored in a central data bank, which is searched when DNA is left at the scene of a crime. In this case, the thief stole a car from the home, which was later recovered in the Bronx. Not only is this person facing federal bank robbery charges and likely federal charges relating to interstate criminal behavior, he now will have state burglary, unlawful possession of a firearm and grand larceny charges in Westchester county.

 
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