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NEW YORK CRIMINAL LAW DEFINITIONS “CRIMES” AND “PERSONS”

New York Criminal Defense Attorneys Tilem & Campbell know that criminal convictions in New York State can have far reaching consequences. As discussed in previous blogs on the subject knowing the legal terminology can have a significant impact on the outcome of a case. In addition, experienced attorneys know that individual localities and specific Courts may have their own specific definitions. At the New York Criminal Defense Firm of Tilem & Campbell we have the experience to know the practices of the Courts throughout New York State. Our attorneys also have the experience to know the significance of a criminal conviction.

New York Crime: (NY PL § 10.00(6)) A crime is a misdemeanor or a felony. When attempting to obtain a favorable plea bargain, an experienced and skilled attorney will fight hard for what is referred to as a “non-criminal disposition” (Please see our past blogs on the subject of ACDs, Violations and Plea Bargaining.) In other words, the defendant would agree to plead guilty; but not to a felony or a misdemeanor. Thus, the defendant would not be saddled with a criminal record and would therefore avoid the stigma and obstacles associated with a criminal record such as difficulty in finding gainful employment, credit difficulties, increased life insurance premiums, denial of certain licenses such as firearms and liquor, etc.

DEFINITION OF PERSON UNDER THE NEW YORK STATE PENAL LAW
New York Person: (NY PL § 10.00(7)) Under the Penal Law definition, a “person” is a human being, and where appropriate, a private or public corporation, a partnership, an unincorporated association, a government or a governmental instrumentality. For the exact definition of “Person” see PL § 10.00(7).

Cases and Statutes of Interest:

In has been held that a law partnership is a “person” which can be charged with a crime. People v. Lessoff & Berger, 159 Misc.2d 1096, 608 N.Y.S.2d 54 (N.Y. Sup. 1994). In Lessoff & Berger, the court ruled that a law partnership could be indicted for crimes involving fraud even if only one partner was involved in the alleged fraud because, reasoned the court, the other law partners benefited financially from the fruits of the one partner’s fraudulent conduct committed in the name of the firm.

The unincorporated labor union known as the Newspaper and Mail Deliverers Union of New York and Vicinity was considered an unincorporated association was therefore a “person” as that term in defined in PL § 10.00(7) which could be held criminally liable under an enterprise corruption statute. People v. Newspaper and Mail Deliverers’ Union of New York and Vicinity, 250 A.D.2d 207, 683 N.Y.S.2d 488 (1st Dept. 1998)

When referring to the victim of a homicide, the term “person” is specifically defined in PL § 125.05(1) as “a human being who has been born and is alive.” The “born and is alive” part of the definition when dealing with a homicide has the effect of excluding an abortion from all homicide statutes except those dealing specifically with abortion. See e.g., PL § 125.40 “Abortion in the second degree”
The First Department held that an infant was a “person” from moment of her birth. A doctor’s conviction, therefore, arising out of injuries sustained by the infant in course of an improperly performed abortion was proper even if act that caused the injuries occurred prior to infant’s birth.
People v. Hayat, 235 A.D.2d 287, 653 N.Y.S.2d 305 (1st Dept. 1997). This case makes clear that if a baby is born alive it is considered a person and the doctor can therefore be held criminally responsible for injuries the baby suffered prior to being born alive.

If you find yourself accused or charged with any criminal offense, contact one of the experienced New York Attorneys at Tilem & Campbell.