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Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a New York robbery case involving a defendant’s motion to suppress statements he made to law enforcement. Specifically, the case required the court determine if the defendant’s statements were admissible or whether they were the product of a violation of his constitutional rights. Ultimately, the court concluded that the defendant’s statements were admissible.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, a police officer witnessed the defendant roll through a stop sign. The police officer pulled over the defendant and requested his driver’s license, registration, and insurance card. As the defendant retrieved the requested items, the officer noticed a can of pepper spray in the glove box. The officer also recognized the vehicle as matching the description of one used in a recent robbery in which the person committing the robbery used pepper spray on the alleged victims.

The officer arrested the defendant and read him his Miranda warnings. Later, the defendant provided a statement to police. While the exact statement was not outlined in the court’s opinion, it’s fair to say that it was against his interest.

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The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution is the amendment that protects individuals against unreasonable searches and seizures at the hands of law enforcement. This constitutional protection is typically understood to require that an officer have a warrant before conducting a search. However, over time the courts have interpreted the Fourth Amendment to include certain exceptions that allow a police officer to bypass the warrant requirement. A recent New York drug case highlighted a situation in which an officer may not be required to produce a warrant before searching someone’s vehicle for drugs.

This case involved a defendant’s failed motion to suppress after evidence was obtained during a vehicle search. In this case, after police officers approached an illegally parked car where the defendant sat in the driver’s seat, one of the officers smelled an odor that he recognized to be PCP. The officer received regular training on PCP and other drugs and had encountered the drug numerous times before. The defendant gave the officers a fake name, and the officer observed that the defendant had glassy eyes and slurred speech.

When the defendant was directed to step out of the vehicle, he made a sweeping motion with his hand, which indicated to the officer that the defendant was attempting to hide illegal contraband. The officers conducted a search of the vehicle and found a bag of cocaine and PCP-dipped cigarettes. The defendant waived his Miranda rights and confessed to possessing the cocaine.

In many cases, such as gun cases or drug cases, law enforcement agencies rely on the public to report criminal or suspicious activity to the police or emergency phone line. Tips received by police from the public can help an officer form reasonable suspicion that someone has committed, is committing, or is about to commit a crime. With reasonable suspicion, police officers may be able to stop, detain, question, and search a suspect without a warrant. Because of this, tips from the public are often used by police officers to justify warrantless searches.

Although a phone-in tip can help an officer have a valid reasonable suspicion that criminal activity is afoot, the existence of a tip, particularly an anonymous tip,  is not in itself sufficient to justify performing a search without a warrant. The New York Court of Appeals, New York’s highest court,  recently reversed a trial court ruling that permitted an officer to search a car without a warrant based on a phoned-in tip.

The defendant from the recently decided appeal was riding in a friend’s vehicle when they were stopped by police. According to the facts discussed in the appellate opinion, the arresting officer had received a radio call from dispatch that someone in a vehicle matching the description of the van the suspect was riding was reported to be visibly brandishing a firearm. Based on the tip and the vehicle description, the police stopped the vehicle and performed a search for weapons, without consent or a warrant. After a firearm was found in the defendant’s possession, he was arrested and charged with a gun offense.

In a recent opinion from a New York court involving a leaving the scene of an accident, the defendant’s motion to suppress was denied. The defendant was convicted of aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle in the first degree and filed a motion to suppress several statements he made to a sergeant who came to question him after the incident. The appellate court denied the motion because it found the defendant’s freedom was not significantly restricted when he made statements to the sergeant.

The Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the driver of a van struck another vehicle then drove away from the scene. Because the van’s license plate fell off while the van was driving away, the county sheriff’s office was able to identify the van’s registered owner. When a sergeant from the sheriff’s office went to question the van’s owner at his farm. The owner made statements that ended up being used against him in court.

After a jury found the defendant guilty of unlicensed operation of the motor vehicle, the defendant appealed, insisting that his statements to the sergeant should have been suppressed. On appeal, the defendant argued that he was both “in custody” and actively “interrogated” by the sergeant, meaning his freedom was significantly restricted while he was being questioned.

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Vaccine cards have become commonplace in New York, throughout the US and indeed the world.  Like everythingVaccine Card Sample else of value, there has been a black market in fake vaccine cards that has evolved and has taken hold as the vaccine becomes mandatory in so many places.  To make matters worse, as the vaccine initially rolled out, there was an emphasis in getting as many people shots in the arms as possible and not necessarily an emphasis placed on how people could prove that they were vaccinated.  The result, was flimsy, hand written vaccine cards written often sloppily by whoever gave the injection without any nationwide standards for the type of vaccine cards.  To make matters worse many people crossed state lines to try to get the vaccine faster.  Among all of the chaos and the black market in fake cards the question remains, is it illegal to use a fake vaccine card?

In late August a New Jersey woman was arrested and charged in New York City with selling fake vaccine cards for $250 each.  The woman, who  used the name AntiVaxMomma on social media was charged with multiple felonies including Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Second Degree.  For an extra $250 an accomplice who worked at a medical facility entered peoples names into the New York State Database.  While the pair has been arrested neither has been indicted and neither has been convicted of any crime.  Both are presumed innocent.

Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument requires that the prosecution can prove that a person knew that the card was forged and possessed the card with the intent to deceive, defraud or injure someone.  New York, specifically rejects an approach that is used in many other states that the unexplained possession of a forged instrument creates a rebuttable presumption of knowledge that it is forged.  Therefore, the prosecution would need to be able to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the person was aware that the instrument was forged.   In addition, to be charged in the Second Degree, which is a felony, it must be a certain type of forged instrument such as a prescription, a deed or will, a public record or a document required to be filed with the government, a government issued identification or government issued document, subway tokens or transfers, or currency.

Many of our clients who are charged in New York DWI cases are  confused by the differences in the two tests that they may have been offered by the police. Very  often, police officers will offer a portable breath test (PBT) to a motorist on the side of the road to help them determine whether there is probable cause to arrest someone for DWI.  The refusal to take such test is punishable by a traffic infraction which can result in 2 points being assessed on your driver’s license.  After a person is arrested for DWI they will be offered the opportunity to take a chemical test by either blood, breath or urine.  The refusal to take that test is very serious and can result in a revocation of a person’s driver’s license for a minimum period of one year.

Prosecutors seeking to introduce scientific or technical evidence in a criminal trial have a burden to prove that the evidence is reliable enough to put before a jury. Jurors are not expected to be familiar with the technical specifications of alcohol and drug testing equipment, and prosecutors must show that the methods used by law enforcement to obtain evidence are generally accepted by the relevant scientific community in order to introduce test results as evidence at trial. A New York criminal trial court recently published a decision denying a prosecutor’s request to admit the test results of a portable breath test (PBT) in a defendant’s DUI trial.

In the recently addressed case, the defendant was charged with a DUI offense after he was pulled over by law enforcement officers for violating traffic laws. After he was stopped and the officer claimed to observe signs of intoxication, officers administered a PBT to the defendant, which suggested his blood alcohol content was above the legal limit. As a result of the PBT results, the defendant was arrested and charged with a DUI. Notably, a second non-portable breath or blood test was not administered to the defendant while he was at the police station.

One of the most common defenses to a New York DWI offense is challenging the admissibility of the government’s evidence. When police officers investigate someone for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they must respect the constitutional rights of the motorist. For example, a police officer cannot pull over a driver for no reason; they must have either probable cause or reasonable suspicion to believe that an offense occurred. Similarly, police officers cannot ask that every driver take a breathalyzer without justification. If a police officer exceeds the bounds of their authority, any evidence they recovered cannot be admitted at trial.

However, if you wish to challenge the admissibility of evidence, it is imperative that you do so in a timely manner. In a recent case, a New York appellate court rejected a defendant’s appeal because he failed to raise his objections to the admissibility of evidence in a pre-trial motion to suppress.

In that case, the defendant was arrested and charged with two DWI-related offenses. The arrest occurred after police officers used a radar gun to determine the defendant was speeding. As officers approached the car, they identified the smell of alcohol and noticed that he had bloodshot eyes. Officers asked the defendant had been drinking, and he responded that he drank two beers. The officer called backup, who administered a breath test, indicating the defendant was intoxicated.

In a recent opinion from a New York court involving a New York gun case, the defendant’s motion to suppress was denied. The defendant was convicted of gun possession in the third degree and filed a motion to suppress the gun found in his coat pocket during the initial 40 seconds of a traffic stop. The state appellate court denied the motion because they found that the search was not a “level three” detention and that there was reasonable suspicion of criminality.

The Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, a parole officer tipped the police officers of the defendant possibly owning a gun. Police officers conducted a traffic stop, stopping the defendant due to the defendant violating traffic laws and having a suspended license. The officers directed the defendant to exit the vehicle and an officer grabbed the defendant’s arm as he exited the vehicle.

Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion reversing a lower court’s decision which denied a defendant’s motion to suppress the drugs that were recovered in a New York drug case. The case involved a traffic stop conducted by police officers who were investigating information that a vehicle would be transporting a large quantity of narcotics. Ultimately, the court concluded that the search of the defendant’s vehicle was unconstitutional based on the information the officers had at the time of the stop.

The Facts of the Case

Police officers intercepted communication indicating that a Ford Explorer would be transporting a large amount of drugs through a particular part of the state on a given night. That night, certain New York State Troopers were told to wait on the highway and stop the Ford Explorer as it passed.

Officers waited for six hours for the Ford Explorer. When they saw it approaching, they stopped the vehicle, arrested the defendant and her codefendant, and searched the car. Officers found a large amount of drugs. No law enforcement ever obtained or sought a warrant for the defendant’s arrest or the search of their vehicle.

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One of the benefits of working with an experienced criminal defense attorney is that your attorney will often be able to work out a deal with the prosecution. Negotiated plea agreements vary widely, depending on the circumstances, however, the general idea is that you should receive a benefit for accepting responsibility and not making the government take the case to trial.

In some cases, a negotiated plea agreement, or a plea bargain, will result in certain charges being withdrawn. In other situations, the charges remain, but a more favorable sentence is agreed upon. A third option is a conditional plea agreement.

In a conditional plea agreement, you enter a guilty plea on all charges that are a part of the agreement. In addition, you agree to fulfill certain conditions within a specified period of time. In exchange, the prosecution agrees that you will only be convicted of certain offenses if you successfully complete the conditions. However, if you fail to satisfy the condition, the judge will sentence you on all the charges you plead guilty to.

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