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In a recent New York drug case, the defendant successfully appealed his conviction for drug possession. When the defendant was originally charged in 2018, the officer arresting him failed to provide specific enough information that would allow a court to conclude that the defendant possessed illegal drugs. Because the defendant successfully argued that this officer’s error meant that he never should have been charged and convicted in the first place, the court of appeals reversed his guilty verdict.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant was charged approximately four years ago with criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree. When the arresting officer wrote out the accusatory statement that is necessary in every criminal case, the officer described the drug as “synthetic cannabinoid/synthetic marijuana.”

The defendant pled guilty to possession and was sentenced to a conditional discharge. He later appealed after consulting with an attorney, learning that the officer’s original statement did not provide enough specificity to qualify as adequate grounds for the State to criminally charge him. Originally, the court denied the defendant’s request, but the defendant appealed once more. This time, a higher court concluded that the defendant had successfully argued his case and that his conviction should indeed be reversed.

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We have discussed in past blogs how New York’s speedy trial statute can be effectively used in many criminal cases.  In a recent case coming out of a New York court, the defendant appealed convictions for three misdemeanor counts and three traffic infractions that had arisen in 2014. On appeal, the defendant argued that an amendment to New York’s speedy trial statute should apply retroactively; thus, he was entitled to a dismissal. The court of appeals considered the defendant’s argument but ultimately disagreed, explaining that the statute in question did not apply to the offense for which the defendant was seeking relief.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, approximately eight years ago, the defendant was criminally charged based on traffic violations. 17 months after being charged, the defendant moved to dismiss the charges based on a New York statute that guarantees defendants the right to a speedy trial. The statute includes provisions stating that if a defendant is subject to unreasonable delay because the prosecution is not ready for trial, that defendant can use this statute to argue for a dismissal. At the time of his motion to dismiss, however, the statute did not apply to defendants charged with traffic infractions. Thus, the defendant’s argument was unsuccessful.

In 2019, however, the legislature changed the language of the New York statute, explicitly including defendants charged with traffic infractions as individuals eligible for dismissal because of unreasonable prosecutorial delay. Upon hearing this news, the defendant again brought up this argument, stating that now he was in the class of people that could benefit from the statute. The court of appeals was thus faced with the decision of whether or not the defendant’s case could indeed be dismissed because of the statute.

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In a recent New York sexual abuse case, the defendant unsuccessfully argued that he had the right to a jury trial under the U.S. Constitution. After being charged with and several sex crimes, the defendant asked for a jury trial so that he could get a fair hearing before potentially being found guilty, and thus being found deportable back to his country of origin. Because the court of appeals disagreed with the defendant’s main argument, it ultimately denied the appeal.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, an undercover police officer was standing on a train platform in June 2015 when he observed the defendant standing nearby. The defendant seemed to be masturbating, although the officer was not entirely certain what was happening at the time. A few minutes later, the defendant pushed himself onto a nearby woman, then ran away to board a train. Immediately, the defendant pushed himself onto a second woman.

The defendant was charged with two counts of forcible touching, two counts of sexual abuse, and one count of public lewdness. Because the defendant was not a U.S. citizen, he faced the threat of potential deportation if convicted of the crimes. The crimes were Class B misdemeanors, which means that the defendant did not have the right to a jury trial under state law – he could only secure a jury trial if the misdemeanors had been Class A.

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In a recent case involving a New York Sex Crime , the defendant successfully appealed his conviction of predatory sexual assault against a child. The defendant was originally found guilty in November 2016, after he went through a jury trial based on his charges and received an unfavorable verdict. He was sentenced to time in prison, but he successfully appealed the decision.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant sexually abused several children below the age of 13 at his residence in New York. The year before he was charged, the defendant watched the children various times in his home, given that the children’s parents were neighbors of his and used the defendant as a babysitter when they had to leave the building. On several different occasions, the children’s parents had dropped them off at the defendant’s home, and he had committed some kind of predatory sexual assault on the children during these visits.

The Opinion

The defendant was convicted of two counts of predatory sexual assault as well as endangering the welfare of a child. On appeal, the defendant argued that the predatory sexual assault conviction should be reversed, and the court ended up agreeing with his argument. According to the defendant, an individual is only guilty of predatory sexual assault against a child in the first degree when he commits the crime at least twice over a period of three months or more. Here, said the defendant, while there was evidence that he had assaulted the children in question, there was insufficient evidence to support the claim that this activity had happened over a period of at least three months. Thus, the defendant’s actions did not align with the definition of the crime, and his conviction should be reversed.

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In a recent case involving a New York gun crime, the defendant unsuccessfully appealed his conviction of attempted criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree. In the appeal, the defendant argued that the officer who found the weapon in question had no right to search his private vehicle, and the trial court should have suppressed the incriminating evidence. Disagreeing with the defendant and discussing the plain view doctrine, the court denied the appeal.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, a police officer was patrolling one evening when he came across a parked car on the highway. The officer immediately saw an open bottle of tequila in the car and smelled alcohol coming from the general vicinity of the car. Because New York law prohibits possession of open containers on public highways, the officer opened the car to investigate the situation.  The Court decided that the officer had the legal right to do this since it is illegal to have an open container of alcohol in the car.

Not only did the officer confirm what he suspected – that the bottle indeed was full of tequila – but he also found an open backpack in the car on the passenger’s side floorboard. Inside the backpack the police officer found a pistol magazine. The officer arrested and charged the defendant with attempted criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree.

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In a recent opinion decided in a New York appellate court, the defendant unsuccessfully appealed his New York firearm case. The defendant was originally found guilty of criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree and unlawful possession of pistol ammunition. When evaluating the defendant’s appeal, the court used a four-level test that is common in New York criminal law to assess the legitimacy of interactions between police officers and pedestrians. Determining that the interaction between the officer and the defendant in this case was legitimate, the court denied the defendant’s appeal.

Facts of the Case

The defendant was charged after an interaction with a police officer in 2019. According to the opinion, the officer had received a tip that the defendant had a firearm on his person, so the officer approached the defendant to investigate the situation. When the officer asked the defendant to take his hands out of his pockets, the defendant refused, instead pushing past the officer in an attempt to evade the interaction.

The officer then grabbed the defendant’s pocket. At this point, it became clear to the officer that the defendant had a gun in his pocket, and he used force to stop the defendant so that he could fully investigate the situation. The officer found the gun, and the defendant was arrested and charged accordingly.

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ANY OTHER WEAPONS

We have written in the past extensively about the Mossberg Shockwave, Remington Tac-14 and AR-15 others.  The basic principle involves a weapon that is not designed to be fired from the shoulder so that it cannot be legallyupdate considered to be a rifle or shotgun and is defined to be fired with two hands so does not meet the legal definition of a pistol.  Therefore, the restrictions on barrel length of shotguns and rifles did not apply as long as the overall length of the weapon was greater than 26 inches.  In addition, since these guns were neither pistols, shotguns nor rifles they could have collapsible stocks, flash suppressors and/or bayonet lugs and not fall into the definition of “assault weapons”.  Despite the fact that these “others” don’t seem to be the source of any significant crime this upset the gun grabbers.  Now under the new law they are regulated and probably need to be added to a pistol license to be kept.

The new law signed by Governor Kathy Hochul on June 6, 2022, redefines the term firearm in New York.  Under New York Law, a firearm requires a license to be issued in order to legally possess the firearm just like any handgun.  The new law amends Penal law sec. 265.00 (3) to include in the definition of firearm: any other weapon which is not otherwise defined in Penal law 265.00 and which is designed or can be converted to fire a projectile by the force of an explosive.

EXPANSION OF RED FLAG LAWS

On June 6, 2022 Governor Kathy Hochul signed an expansion of New York’s already problematic red flag laws giving the right to file Extreme Risk Protection Petitions to a wide range of health care workers.  The list of healthcare workers includes doctors, nurses, social workers, psychiatrists, marriage and family therapists, and licensed mental health counselors who have treated the person who they wish to red flag within the 6 months preceding the red flag petition.  The new law went on the require that police officers and district attorneys file red flag petitions under certain circumstances.  Previously, it was discretionary with the police officer or district attorney whether or not to file a red flag case.  The new law makes it mandatory under certain circumstances.

One issue that has not been reported is that this amendment to the extreme risk protection law creates a major new exception to the doctor-patient privilege.  The doctor-patient privilege is codified in New York under CPLR 4504 and prohibits the disclosure of information obtained while attending the patient.  The new law specifically authorizes a medical professional to disclose protected health information.  In addition, it gives the Judges hearing the petition for an extreme risk protection order the authority to order the disclosure of protected medical records from other medical providers.  This is perhaps one of the largest exceptions ever created to doctor-patient privilege and is likely to discourage many from getting treatment because of the potential for disclosure of their personal medical records.

New York’s New Type of License – Semi Automatic Rifles

Among the new package of laws that were signed into law by Governor Kathy Hochul was the requirement to obtain a license before purchasing or acquiring a new semiautomatic rifle (other than an “assault rifle“).  The intention seems to have been to prevent the purchase of rifles by 18, 19 and 20 year old individuals but the law does much more. Notwithstanding, that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in California has already ruled a similar California ban on 18, 19 and 20 year old young adults is unconstitutional.   Under S.9458/A.10503 Article 400 of the Penal law was amended to create a new type of gun license called a license for a semiautomatic rifle.  Similar to licenses to carry pistols the new law says that a license to purchase a semiautomatic rifle obtained outside of New York City will not be valid inside of New York City unless a special permit giving validity is obtained from the New York City Police.

The new law does not make it a crime to own or possess guns which were acquired before the effective date.  Rather, the new law makes it a crime to purchase or obtain a new semiautomatic rifle without having the new type of license.  The new licenses appear to be issued by the same licensing officers using the same criteria as license for handguns and is almost certain to back up and slow down the already overwhelmed system for obtaining handgun licenses.  The new licenses require recertification every five years.

On June 6, 2022, New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed 10 new gun control measures into law.  These laws were hurriedly written and passed and appear to be a knee jerk reaction to the tragedies in Uvalde and Buffalo but will have a heavy impact on the New York Second amendment community.  As New York Second Amendment lawyers we have been contacted by a large number of concerned citizens, firearms trainers and gun store owners about the impact of these laws.  Taken as a whole these may be the stupidest gun laws ever written.  Here is a brief summary of what passed and what it means with links to get more information about each one.  .

S.9458/A.10503 makes it a felony to either purchase a semiautomatic rifle without a license or sell a semiautomatic rifle to someone who does not have a license. The new law also raises the minimum age to buy a semiautomatic rifle to 21 years of age.  To read more about the law click here.

S.9407-B/A.10497 makes it a crime to purchase body armor except for individuals in “eligible professions”.  It makes it a felony to sell body armor to someone who is not in an “eligible profession”. To read more about this law click here.

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