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criminal defense attorneyNassau County established a Drug Treatment Court in 2009. The purpose of the court is to allow individuals charged with drug related felony charges to rehabilitate themselves and avoid going to jail.

Recently eighteen graduates from the Nassau County Drug Treatment Court Program had a celebration. This was the thirtieth graduation from the Nassau County Felony Treatment Court. The court which combines therapy, random drug testing and court appearances provides an alternative to jail for alcoholics and drug offenders.

The Court’s Success Rate

More than 400 people have been involved in the program at the Nassau County Felony Drug Treatment Court since 2009. Of these 400 individuals, only 3 have committed crimes again. This is an outstanding achievement.

Cost Savings from the Court

The Nassau County Drug Treatment Court is saving the taxpayers of Nassau County millions of dollars. The treatment program costs far less than incarcerating the individuals charged with crimes. Individuals involved in the program have stated the program has “institutionalized compassion.” Instead of treating the people in the program as criminals they are treated with humility. The program lasts eighteen months. In addition, it is followed by a one year conditional release. Individuals who graduate from the program, who have been charged with felonies, can have their convictions dismissed or reduced to misdemeanors. In addition, they can have their record sealed in certain circumstances.

Judge Frank Gulotta who sits in the County Court in Nassau County stated with regard to the program that it is a “reclamation project.” He requested the program be expanded to include other individuals charged with felonies. Among those other individuals he would like to see included in the program are those charged with identity theft. He made this suggestion because many of the drug offenders are involved in identity theft too. He went on to state “instead of letting someone sit in prison for umpteen years, you are essentially producing people who can be productive members of society.”

Elliot Schlissel Esq. and his associates provide aggressive legal representation for individuals charged with misdemeanors and felonies throughout the metropolitan New York area. In addition, they represent individuals being investigated for criminal activity.

nassau county criminal defense attorneysIn October of 2012, the Appellate Division of the Third Department, an Appeals Court in the State of New York, found a jury should have been instructed intoxication, without further evidence, did not establish reckless driving. Upon making this ruling, the court set aside the conviction of a defendant named Goldblatt.

Goldblatt had been convicted of aggravated vehicular homicide, vehicular manslaughter in the first degree, manslaughter in the second degree (2 counts), assault in the third degree, reckless endangerment in the second degree, driving while intoxicated (two counts) and reckless driving.

Goldblatt had been driving an SUV in a 40 mile an hour zone at 55 miles per hour. His car went off the road. He hit two people who died from their injuries.

An Appeal

Goldblatt’s lawyers argued on appeal he should not have been convicted on the top count of the indictment which was aggravated vehicular homicide. Their position was this conviction was not supported by sufficient evidence. They claimed the Court at the trial level did not properly instruct the jury regarding the criminal charge of aggravated vehicular homicide. The appeals court reversed the conviction on the aggravated vehicular homicide. The case was sent back for a new trial on this criminal charge. The reason for the Judge’s finding was he agreed with Goldblatt’s lawyers’ argument that the jury had not been properly instructed as to what they must find to convict him of this criminal charge.

criminal defense attorneysSerious Driving Offense

Under the new regulations, a “serious driving offense” is defined as: a fatal crash; driving related penal law conviction; accumulation of 20 or more points assessed for driving violations within the last 25 years; or having two or more driving convictions each worth five points or higher.

If, during the lifetime review, there are three or four drug and/or alcohol related convictions, even if there are no serious driving offenses in the last 25 years, the DMV can either deny a reinstatement for 5 years beyond the original statutory revocation period (in the event the driver’s license was revoked for a drug or alcohol offenses) or 2 additional years (if the driver’s license was revoked for a reason other than an alcohol or drug related offense).  Revocations related to misdemeanor charges which, in the past, had been for as little as six months can now be extended for five years. This is the same for felony charges, which would have caused a loss of a driver’s license for one year, can also be extended for a 5 year period.

Restricted Driver’s Licenses

After the driver has served the additional five year suspension of his or her driver’s license, the DMV can restore the license as a restricted driver’s license that would allow the driver’s ability to drive for such purposes as travel to and from work, school or doctor’s offices.  This is similar to the “hardship license” that presently exists and and is currently granted by courts during the pendency of cases. In addition, the DMV can also impose conditions requiring interlock ignition devices for a 5 year period. Individuals who are convicted of a third drug or alcohol criminal offense, beyond the standard revocation for a minimum of six months on a misdemeanor and one year on a felony, are currently facing the potential lifetime revocation of their driver’s license, or at best, an additional five year period with no driving privileges. In addition to the five year suspension period, they may also face a five year period with ignition interlock requirements on their vehicles.

criminal defense lawyersAt the request of New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo, the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has issued new regulations that will require the permanent revocation of driving privileges in the State of New York. In addition, the Department of Motor Vehicles can also set up a re-licensing procedure that takes a very long time for an individual to receive his or her driver’s license back. The new re-licensing procedures may have restrictions relating to drug and alcohol driving convictions. New York’s re-licensing policy is among the strictest in the country.

Changes In The Law

In the past, an individual convicted of driving while impaired by alcohol or driving under the influence of alcohol would lose his or her license from 90 days to six months. At the most, the loss of the license would be for one year. These individuals were eligible at the end of their sentence to reapply for their driving privileges from the DMV in the State of New York. In the past the DMV made a determination and, if they were eligible, their license privileges would be restored.

Lifetime Review By The Department Of Motor Vehicles

The new driving regulations give the Department of Motor Vehicles the authority to conduct a lifetime review of all drivers who want their licenses reinstated.  After the review, the DMV will render a determination as to whether these drivers are eligible to have their driving privileges to reinstated.

The new regulations give the DMV the authority to conduct lifetime reviews anytime a driver seeks to have a driver’s license reinstated after a revocation. In the event the DMV denies the reinstatement, the driver will end up with either a lifetime revocation of his or her driver’s license or a delay in the reinstatement of driving privileges for a period of five more years beyond the original period of the revocation. Should the DMV find five or more drug or alcohol related driving convictions during the driver’s lifetime all applications for reinstatement of driving privileges can be forever denied. Should the DMV find three or more drug or alcohol related convictions during the last 25 years plus one other serious driving infraction during the same period, the DMV can also deny reinstatement of driving privileges for the individuals lifetime.

In a case before Gerri Pickett in the criminal court of Kings County the Judge found the accusatory instrument charging an individual with driving while intoxicated was facially insufficient.  Her conclusion was based upon the fact there were no actual allegations supporting the charges essential elements in the accusatory instrument filed by the Kings County District Attorney’s office.

The accusatory instrument alleged that a police officer observed an individual named Padmore standing with a non-party named More.  The officer’s statement alleged Padmore stated “he hit and sideswiped another vehicle.”  Damage was caused to the other vehicle. Other individuals then drove his car away from the scene of the accident.  The officer further stated she observed Padmore to be intoxicated.

Evidence Of A Criminal Offense

The Court’s decision stated in New York Criminal Procedures Law Section 60.50 for an individual to be convicted, in addition to a confession, there had to be evidence the criminal offense was actually committed. The Court found the prosecution did not meet the minimum requirement of facial sufficiency. There is a question as to whether Padmore “operated the vehicle.”  Since no one saw Padmore driving the vehicle his own statement was the only proof of the officer’s conclusions. Since there was no corroborating evidence of driving while intoxicated, the Judge dismissed the case.

About The Author – New York Criminal Defense Lawyer

The Law Office of Elliot S. Schlissel has been representing men and women charged with misdemeanors and felonies throughout the metropolitan New York area for more than 34 years. Call the law office for a free consultation.

Nassau County Teenager Court

April 18th, 2012

Nassau County, Long Island, now has a new pilot program designed to help 16 and 17 year olds charged with a crime avoid going to jail.  Nassau County is one of nine counties throughout New York State to have a specific court designed to hear cases involving 16 and 17 year olds who previously have been treated as adults subject to criminal prosecution in the criminal courts in New York.

Jonathan Lipman, the Chief Judge in the State of New York, brought about this initiative because he feels teenagers charged with certain crimes should not be charged as adults within the criminal justice system in the State of New York.

Criminal Prosecution of Minors In New York

New York is the only state in the country that currently prosecutes non-violent 16 and 17 year old as adults within its criminal justice system.  Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice recently made the following statement with regard to this pilot court program “we’re prepared to show the rest of the state that this approach is the best way to rehabilitate young offenders, save tax payer money and protect the public.”

How This New Program Works

Sixteen and seventeen year olds who are charged with non-violent criminal offenses are initially screened by case workers from the Nassau County Department of Probation.  If they are found to be at low risk of committing crimes in the future their case can be dismissed.  If they are found to be high risk of committing crimes in the future, they are put through an extensive screening process and both the lawyers and the judge look for a solution that will solve the teenagers underlying problems and protect the public.  The purpose of the teenager court is to find an alternative to sentencing teenagers to jail.  Teenagers convicted as adults in the criminal courts receive permanent criminal records which can affect the rest of their lives.

Teenager Recidivism

A statistical analysis of the records of teenage boys and girls who have an initial contact with the criminal justice system finds that more than 80% of them will be rearrested by the time they are 28 years old.  It is hoped teenagers who make bad judgment calls will be given the opportunity to have a second chance, a clean record and be able to get out of the criminal justice system.

Juvenile Defense and Criminal Defense Lawyers In New York

Juveniles charged with crimes in New York can be prosecuted in either Family Court, Criminal Court or now the Teenager Special Court.  The Law Offices of Elliot Schlissel and their dedicated attorneys, for more than 30 years, have represented men and women charged with large varieties of criminal offenses.  Our office has extensive experience representing individuals charged with computer and internet crimes, traffic tickets, white collar crimes, sex crimes, weapons possession, driving while intoxicated (DWI/DUI), shoplifting, burglary, assault and battery, domestic violence, drug offenses and other misdemeanors and felonies.  Contact us for a free consultation.

Children who are charged with crimes will often have these crimes adjudicated in the Family Court of New York.  These children are entitled to virtually the same rights guaranteed under the United States Constitution in the Family Courts they would have if they were prosecuted in the Criminal Courts in New York.

Similarities and Differences Between the Family Courts and Criminal Courts in New York

There are similarities and differences between the prosecution of a crime in the Family Court in New York vis a vis the prosecution of the same or similar crime of an adult in the Criminal Courts.  To start with, the prosecutor is called the “presentment agency” instead of “The People of the State of New York”.  There is no District Attorney’s office representing the prosecution in the Family Courts.  In the City of New York the prosecutors is the Corporation Counsels Office and in the suburban counties outside the City of New York the prosecutors are the County Attorney’s Office.  In the Criminal Courts individuals charged with a crime can be released on their own recognizance instead of bail being posted.  In the Family Courts the children are released to their parent’s custody.  There is no bail statute affecting release in the family court.

The trial in a criminal prosecution in the Family Court is referred to as a fact finding hearing.  The finding of a Family Court, instead of being that the individual is guilty, is a finding of “adjudication of juvenile delinquency”.  In the Criminal Court an individual found guilty can be sentenced to jail. In the Family Court the sentence of a child is called a placement in a facility.

Motion Practice in the Family Courts

As in the Criminal Courts, Motions to Suppress evidence and Motions to Dismiss in the interest of justice can be made to the judge.

No Jury Trials in the Family Court

Juveniles in the Family Court do not have a right to a jury trial. Adults in Criminal Court are entitled to trial by jury in both misdemeanor and felony proceedings. In misdemeanor proceedings six person juries are used while in felony proceedings twelve person juries are used.

Plea Bargaining

Plea bargaining is a process in the Criminal Courts where an individual charged with a crime can plead guilty to a lesser crime for the purpose of receiving a no jail commitment or a sentencing commitment from a judge that is much more lenient than if he or she had been found guilty of the original crime.  In the Family Court instead of plea bargaining the juvenile makes an admission to a lesser charge.  Unlike in the Criminal Courts there is no commitment by the court with regard to sentencing.  The reason for the lack of commitment for sentencing in the Family Court relates to the mission of the Family Court.  It takes into the consideration the best interests of the child and the protection of the community when dealing with sentencing issues.

Convictions In The Family Court

If a juvenile is convicted in Family Court after the fact finding hearing there is a second hearing called the dispositional hearing.  During the disposition hearing the attorney for the child can present to the court a plan to deal with the issues raised in the case.  These plans can deal with sentencing alternatives involving placement in schools, community based programs, drug treatment counseling and other types of alternative sentencing programs.  The judge at a dispositional hearing will render a decision as to whether the child requires confinement, treatment or supervision.  The court can also conditionally discharge the child into the custody of his or her parents.

Family Court Legal Representation

Although there are similarities between the prosecution of a juvenile in the Family Court and the Criminal Courts, should you have a child that is charged with a crime pending in the Family Court before retaining counsel you should discuss the attorneys experience in representing minors in the Family Court.  Although there are similarities and differences between criminal prosecutions in the Family Court and in the Criminal Courts an attorney with experience and expertise in dealing with Family Court matters may obtain a better result than an attorney that only deals with prosecutions of individuals in the Criminal Courts in New York.

Family Court Lawyers

The Family Court Lawyers at the Law Office of Elliot Schlissel have been representing minors charged with both misdemeanors and felonies in the Family Courts in the metropolitan New York area for more than thirty years.  Our firm represents juveniles charged with misdemeanors and felonies in the Family Courts of the five boroughs of the City of New York, Westchester County, Nassau and Suffolk Counties.  In addition the firm represents individuals charged with assault and battery, shop lifting, burglary, driving while intoxicated (DUI/DWI), weapons possession, traffic tickets, computer crimes and internet crimes in the criminal courts.  We also help our clients arrange for bail so they can be released from jail.  Call us for a free consultation.

Jorge Arbaje-Diaz was a New York City Police Officer.  He was arrested in 2008.  He was charged in a federal court proceeding with fourteen other members of a robbery crew.  The charges against him say that they posed as police officers for the purposes of robbing narcotics dealers in the east coast.  Arbaje-Diaz and one other member of the criminal crew were actual police officers.  It is estimated that he participated in more than one hundred violent robberies of narcotics dealers. It is thought that these robberies resulted in more than four million dollars received by his criminal group.

Sentenced to Twenty Years In Prison

Jorge Arbaje-Diaz was sentenced in June 2011 to twenty years in prison.  The prosecutors, in their indictment of him, alleged he used his status as a police officer to gain access to the homes utilized by the drug dealers. Once they were in the home they tied up and tortured their victims until they told them where there drugs and money were hidden.  During at least one robbery Arbaje-Diaz while in his New York Police uniform, carrying his firearm, badge and handcuffs with him actively participated in the robbery.

At the time of the sentencing US Attorney Loretta Lynch stated “today’s sentence will send a strong message that anyone who abuses a position of public trust by committing such heinous crimes will be severely punished.”  At his sentencing Arbaje-Diaz’ attorney argued for a more lenient sentence.  He asked to be only sentenced to ten years instead of twenty years in prison.  The basis of his argument was that a “dirty cop would have a very difficult time inside of prison”.  Unfortunately for Mr. Arbaje-Diaz the judge was not moved by the argument and sentenced him to 20 years in a federal prison.

New York City and Long Island Criminal Defense Lawyers

If you, a friend or loved one are being investigated for a crime that is the time you need to hire an attorney.  You should hire a criminal defense lawyer as soon as you suspect the police or other investigatory agencies are looking into your conduct.

An experienced criminal defense lawyer can mean the difference between walking free and spending a significant portion of your life in a prison.  The attorneys of the Law Offices of Elliot Schlissel are known throughout the court system as dedicated, knowledgeable criminal defense lawyers.  The firm has experience in handling computer and internet crimestraffic ticketsviolent crimeswhite collar crimessex crimesweapons possessiondriving while intoxicated (DWI/DUI), shop lifting, burglary, juvenile offensesassault, assault and batterymisdemeanorsdomestic violencedrug offenses and all other types of misdemeanors and felonies. Feel free to call for a free consultation.

Coerced Interrogations

March 25th, 2012

A documentary “Scenes of a Crime” deals with ten hours of taped interrogations of Adrian Thomas at a police station in Troy, New York, in 2008.  The ten hours of taped interrogations resulted in a disputed confession which is the subject of the documentary.  The confession related to a high profile baby killing case.  The Appellate Division for the Third Department located in Albany, New York, is currently considering an appeal of Mr. Thomas’ conviction based on the ten hours of interrogations.

Police Officers Lie

During the ten hours of taped interrogations, Mr. Thomas was continually lied to.  He was mislead over the two days of interrogations.  The police played good cop/bad cop.  The good cop tried to befriend Mr. Thomas.  The bad cop threatened him and called him a liar.  The detectives threatened to arrest his wife.  They sought to shame him into “being a man” and taking responsibility for the murder of the child so the wife would go free.

They lied to Mr. Thomas about the child being alive, and the doctors trying to save his life.  Mr. Thomas, over the ten hour period, went into a deep depression and talked about suicide.

Mr. Thomas Confesses

In the end the police convinced Mr. Thomas to confess.    He confessed to throwing the infant into the crib three times.

Psychological Coercion

The defense sought to submit an expert witness to testify to the issue of psychological coercion and the use of psychological coercion to obtain false confessions.  The defense tried to have Richard J. Ofshe, a social psychologist and Professor Emeritus at the University of California at Berkeley, testify.  The judge ruled that Mr. Thomas’ theories were not “general[ly] acceptance[d] in the scientific community” and, therefore, were not admissible into evidence.

The police initially believed that the child, Matthew Thomas, died of a severe skull fracture.  In the end, they learned that this diagnosis was incorrect.  There was no skull fracture.  The new theory of how the death took place was based on shaken baby syndrome, which is a crime.

Mr. Thomas Had No Prior Criminal Record

Mr. Thomas had never been previously arrested.  During the interrogation they had insisted for hours they had no idea what happened to the child.  He eventually weakened.  The police repeatedly said that whatever had occurred they are sure it was an accident and that he would not be arrested.  They offered numerous suggestions to him as to how the baby could have been inadvertently hurt.  In the end Mr. Thomas stated “if it comes down to it I’ll take the blame for it because, listen, I didn’t do it, when it comes down I take the rap for my wife so she won’t go to jail…I don’t want my wife to go to jail…I’m saying I will take the fall for my wife because I got a good wife.”

Police asked him again what happened and he responded “I don’t know how it happened”.  The officer then stated “then you can’t take the fall for your wife.  We gotta go pick your wife up.”

At the end of the interrogation Mr. Thomas acknowledged that he threw the baby down in the crib which resulted in the child’s death.  He was convicted by the jury.

The appeal pending before the appellate division of the third department has to do with setting aside the decision made by the jury based on a coerced confession.

Criminal Defense Lawyers

If you, a friend or family member is arrested or is anticipating being arrested relating to a crime you need the best possible criminal defense lawyer for legal representationThe criminal defense lawyers at the law offices of Elliott Schlissel have extensive experience in dealing with the criminal courts throughout the metropolitan area.  We represent individuals charged with computer and internet crimes, traffic tickets, violent crimes, white collar crimes, sex crimes, weapons possession, driving while intoxicated (DWI/DUI), shop lifting, burglary, juvenile offenses, assault, assault and battery, misdemeanors, domestic violence, drug offenses and all other types of misdemeanors and felonies. Call us for a free consultation. Our phones are monitored 24/7.

In Coram, Long Island, Kevin Daly, age 23, was driving around drunk in his car while wearing a T-shirt that said “I’m not an alcoholic, I’m a drunk. Alcoholics go to meetings.” Kevin Daly was driving a 2000 Saturn. He attempted to make a turn when he struck a marked police patrol car. The officer in the patrol car noted Daly had blood shot, glassy eyes. He slurred his speech and reeked from alcohol. When he exited his vehicle, he was unsteady on his feet. Daly, as he walked out of his car, stated “I tried to stop but I was going too fast for my brakes to stop on the wet road.” He indicated to the police officer that he had two or three beers. He also said, “I deserve whatever I get. I was drinking and driving.” Daly was arraigned in Suffolk County Court and was given ten thousand dollars bail.

Criminal Defense Lawyers

The attorneys of the Law Office of Elliot S. Schlissel handle traffic, tickets, white collar crimes, computer and internet crimes, domestic violence cases, driving while intoxicated (DWI/DUI), drug cases, gun cases and all other types of misdemeanor and felonies. Call us for a free consultation. Our phones lines are open 24/7. We arrange for bail and we do arraignments seven days a week for our clients.