To submit a New York criminal law question, Email me at

Monday, February 24, 2014

Can I get a criminal record for riding a bicycle on the sidewalk in NYC?

Surprisingly  the answer is YES!

Under New York Administrative Code 19-176 (c), a person who rides a bicycle on any sidewalk where it is not permitted by sign, in a manner that endangers any other person or property shall be guilty of a misdemeanor crime. The punishment is fine of up to $100 or imprisonment up to twenty (20) days jail or both.  While I imagine it would take serous danger or injury to person(s) or property for a judge to consider sentencing someone to jail, pleading guilty to this summons or being found guilty after trial would leave someone with a permanent criminal record in New York that cannot be erased or expunged.  Add this to the list of pink summons like "being in the park after dark" or "urinating in public" that can drastically affect your future.  

"Remember one reasonable doubt can make all the difference"

#pinksummons,  #criminallaw,  #criminaldefense, #NYC 

Does the arresting officer, testing officer or both need to show up to my DWI refusal hearing?

If no officers show up to the refusal hearing, the administrative law judge will postpone the case for the officers to appear.  The good news is that they will restore your driving privileges during this adjournment which typically takes 3-6 months in the NYC area. Your lawyer has the option of preparing a subpoena to insure the officer's appearance for the next hearing date.

Unlike traffic tickets, the case is not dismissed if the officer does not appear the next court date.  I have conducted many refusal hearings in the NYC area where none of the police officers appeared and the hearing takes place without any live police witnesses. If one officer shows, they will be allowed to testify as to what their fellow officers told them or what they observed them do.  The reason this is allowed is because hearsay is allowed at a refusal hearing.  There are also cases that allow for the introduction of police reports that ordinarily would not be allowed at trial. The burden for the State is the same as if the officers were present, so it is essential that your attorney knows what elements need to be established by the State because if any one of them is missing, the judge must rule in your favor.  The decision on whether to subpoena the officer to testify is a difficult one as there are many advantages to having an officer testify prior to the criminal trial.  Most likely he has yet to be prepped for cross-examination and has briefly read over his paperwork.  This gives a huge advantage to a skilled trial lawyer and his testimony at the hearing can be used against the officer at trial.  These advantages must be weighed against the improved odds of winning the refusal hearing based on lack of evidence.  That is why it is imperative to hire an attorney with the experience and track record to navigate these difficult decisions.

"Remember one reasonable doubt can make all the difference"

#dwi, #dui, #dwirefusal, #duirefusal, #refusalhearing,  #criminallaw,  #criminaldefense, #NYC

Does New York State honor out of state driver's license points?

For the most part, the answer is "No". New York State does not assign points from out of state convictions or from other countries with the exception of  Ontario and Quebec. I copied the relevant section from the official NYS DMV website and linked the full article below.

Out-of-state convictions: 

If you are convicted of a traffic violation in another state or country, points are not added to your New York State driving record, unless the violation occurred in Ontario or Quebec.

New York State has a reciprocal agreement with Quebec and Ontario. Traffic violation convictions that occur in these provinces are recorded on your New York State driver record, and the convictions have the same effect and carry the same points as convictions that occur in New York State. This can affect your driver violation point total and Driver Responsibility Assessment.

"Remember one reasonable doubt can make all the difference"

#nycdmv,  #criminallaw,  #criminaldefense, #NYC

Thursday, January 10, 2013

I missed a day of community service and it was my final chance, What can I do?

So the question was asked, "what can be done if community service was not completed and it was my final chance?  Will I be sentenced to jail?"

When a defendant is given multiple chances to perform community service and fails to do so, jail is certainly a possibility.  Judges feel that you were given a considerable break in sentencing and that you are not taking it seriously or giving it the priority it deserves.  Your first step once community service is missed, is to go back to the office where you signed up, ASAP, explain the reasons for missing your community service and ask politely to reschedule your missed date(s).  Unfortunately many counties are very inflexible in allowing missed dates to be rescheduled.  Perhaps it is so that they are not inundated with requests to reschedule which would lead to defendants essentially doing the community service when they felt like it rather than when they were ordered to.  Make sure you document the date and time of who you spoke to as well as their name.

Assuming the community service office was unable or unwilling to reschedule your missed dates, reach out to your attorney and ask them to intervene on your behalf.  They too should document their efforts.  If neither of these solutions work, I recommend that you do the community service anyway.  Take the initiative to find a non-profit organization, speak to someone in charge and ask them how you go about volunteering.  Complete all of the missed hours with this company BEFORE your court date.  Ask a supervisor in the non-profit company to write a letter to the judge on the company stationery, explaining what the charity does, the dates and times you volunteered, and what tasks you performed during those hours.  They should provide their contact information in case a court clerk needs to verify this information.

Now this strategy is not guaranteed to keep the judge from re-sentencing you to jail but it should maximize that possibility as you did complete the hours just not in the manner proposed.  The judge will likely allow you to reschedule your missed time with the program originally intended.