Criminal Law Blog

Friday, July 18, 2014

NYC False Arrest Attorney Files Another Action in Federal Court

An NYC false arrest Complaint was filed in Federal Court on July 15, 2014, on behalf of the firm's client, Maurice S., in civil case 14-cv-4320. The Complaint contains numerous causes of action including unreasonable search and seizure, false arrest, failure to intervene and a claim against the City of New York, known as aMonell claim.

Allegations Within the Complaint

At about 10:30 a.m. on July 11, 2012, and in the vicinity of Throop Avenue and Hart Street, Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, NY, Maurice had just left his apartment and was stopped by two plain clothes NYPD officers. Although the officers had no reasonable suspicion to believe that Maurice had engaged in any criminal activity, they grabbed him and handcuffed him. The officers also promised to explain why he was being arrested once they got to the police precinct.

After spending approximately 6 hours at the precinct and another 24 hours at Central Booking, Maurice appeared before a criminal court judge for arraignment. The NYPD officers had caused Maurice to be charged with violating NY Penal Law Sections 220.39, 220.16 and 220.03; and two of those charges were felonies. Next, he was transported to Riker's Island where he stayed for 6 days until he was released and told to return to court on January 25, 2013. When he returned to court as required, all of the false criminal charges which had been levied against him were dismissed in their entirety.

Unfortunately, the false arrest and continued detainment, such as that alleged in Maurice's Complaint is not an isolated incident in New York City. Fortunately, however, individuals who feel they have been wronged by the NYPD, the very people charged with protecting them, can file civil lawsuits seeking compensation for the wrongs perpetrated against them.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Retail Shopper Sues for False Arrest After "Shop-and-Frisk"
When Trayon Christian was handcuffed outside of Barneys after properly paying for a $349 belt, it may have seemed to him like the ultimate indignity.  Now, in response to his lawsuit for false arrest, lawyers for New York City claim that the entire episode was his fault.

Two undercover New York City detectives had stopped the fashion-conscious engineering student, who is black, and accused him of credit card fraud.  According to Christian, the police questioned how he could afford his purchase and said Barneys had reported his debit card as fake.  Confiscating both card and merchandise, they detained him in a precinct holding cell, though he had no criminal record and his debit card was funded with his paycheck.  When the police discovered their error, they released him.

Christian sued the NYPD and Barneys for false arrest, claiming they engaged in racial profiling.  Notwithstanding past apologies from the police and Barneys CEO Mark Lee, lawyers from the New York City Law Department have now gone on the offensive.  In a recent court filing, they claim that it was Trayon Christian who provoked the arrest and that "any injury alleged to have been sustained resulted from plaintiff’s own culpable or negligent conduct.”  They also claim, “At all times relevant to the acts alleged in the complaint, defendant City of New York, its agents and officials, acted reasonably in the proper and lawful exercise of their discretion." A spokesman for the Law Department conceded that its position might change as the case progresses.
The Christian case is one of many recent instances of the use of racial profiling to arrest or detain retail shoppers without good cause, a practice some call "shop-and-frisk."  In April, prosecutors dropped all charges against a Pakistani shopper who said she was unfairly profiled, falsely accused of shoplifting, and wrongfully detained and arrested at Macy’s.  Suits have been filed by black shoppers who said they were targeted by Macy’s and other major New York stores.  

A skilled criminal lawyer can prevent a damaging criminal conviction and help victims obtain compensation.  The Law Firm of Michael J. Redenburg, Esq. PC has years of experience in false arrest cases, as well as in many other areas of criminal law.  If you feel you have been unfairly arrested or detained while shopping, contact our office so we can discuss your situation and your options for moving forward. 

Friday, July 11, 2014

Arrested And Never Saw A Judge

Every day throughout Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens NY, people are arrested and charged with crimes they did not commit. Usually, however, the person arrested will appear at arraignment before a Criminal Court Judge after they are processed at the police precinct and spend 12 - 24 hours in Central Booking drinking milk and eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. But thousands of people each year throughout the City's boroughs are let out the side door of Central Booking without ever even seeing a judge. When this happens, it is probably because the ADA who reviewed the facts of your case before a Complaint was drafted decided not to go forward with the criminal charges against you as alleged by the police officers who arrested you.

When the DA's Office decides not to go forward with the accusations of criminal wrongdoing as alleged by one of New York's Finest, it is because they declined to prosecute you, which is commonly referred to as DP. When you are let out of Central Booking, you may or may not receive a piece of paper that says your case was DP'd along with the arrest number and the charges that were to be brought against you. Regardless, in this case you may have a false arrest lawsuit to sue the City of New York for false arrest. If another person, say your girlfriend, made an accusation against you and the police reasonably relied on her account of what happened - and your case was DP'd - you probably will not have a false arrest case to sue. But you may, so you should speak to a lawyer to see. However, if your arrest that resulted in a DP was based on bad police action, such as them stopping you for no reason - without probable cause -  then you very well may have a cause of action to sue the City of New York for money damages. And the best way to find out is to contact a civil rights lawyer to discuss your legal options. If state law claims are to be brought on your behalf, there are strict time limits, called statute of limitations, which restrict the time frame in which you have to do so.

Another scenario where a DP may result is when a person is given a Desk Appearance Ticket, also commonly referred to as a DAT. In this case, the person is arrested, fingerprinted and photographed at the police precinct. But because the accusation is a misdemeanor, you live in the neighborhood and you do not have a criminal record, the police do not bring you to Central Booking. Instead, you get a piece of paper called a DAT with the date for you to go to court. That day is really your arraignment. Sometimes, when you go on that day, you get told that your case is not ready and you sign your name is a book that you came to court as required. You're told that your next court date will be mailed to you, but sometimes, instead you're notified that your case is DP'd. In such cases, you may have a case to sue the City of New York. The firm of Michael J. Redenburg, Esq. PC obtained a $7,500.00 Offer of Judgment plus reasonable attorneys' fees and costs for a client in this situation in 2014 where the client was detained for five (5) hours.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Another Driving While Black Arrest

The term "Driving While Black" refers to the racially motivated profiling of people of color while they are lawfully operating their motor vehicles. This month, both a Queens man has alleged he was the victim of such profiling and a Brooklyn man, retained by the Firm has also made allegations in a similar vein. This post will briefly discuss the two incidents and subsequent lawsuits. 

According to recent news reports, Taxi and Limousine investigators had stopped a black man in the county of Queens after his biracial wife exited the passenger side of the automobile, which was a black Town Car. The investigators thereafter issued the man numerous summonses which included several false allegations, including that the man took money from the woman for the ride and that he was an unlicensed cab operator. In reality, the lawsuit claims, the woman in the passenger seat of the car was the man's wife and the TLC investigators believed she was white. The investigators' logic was that since the man was black and the female passenger appeared to them to be white, that he was transporting her for a fee as a livery driver, and that he did not have a proper license to do so. Eventually, the summonses were dropped after a hearing examiner found that the investigators testified inconsistently and the man filed a lawsuit. 

The Law Firm of Michael J. Redenburg, Esq. PC recently filed a Complaint in federal court which also raises issues of racially profiling drivers based on the color of their skin. In the case, Jeffrey D. alleges that he was stopped in Brooklyn by NYPD officers for no reason. Jeffrey, who is black, was operating his late model Jeep Grand Cherokee which he had leased new from the dealership and which had not been altered or modified in any way. Once pulled over, more than 10 officers arrived on the scene based on an allegation that Jeffrey's auto had windows that were too darkly tinted. As this was unfolding, Jeffrey tried to record the incident with his cell phone, but the officers then confiscated the digital card of the phone and arrested Jeffrey for Obstructing Governmental Administration. Once the case was adjourned in contemplation of dismissal, Jeffrey filed a lawsuit. 


Monday, June 30, 2014

Bronx Woman Alleges False Arrest and Other NYPD Misconduct

In a case that made the Daily News in early June, 2014, a Bronx woman by the name of Erica N. has filed a lawsuit in the Southern District of New York demanding compensation for the wrongs she suffered at the hands of the NYPD. The suit which was filed on June 5, 2014, names The City of New York, The City of New York Police Department, the individual officer involved in the alleged misconduct as against Erica and "John Doe" defendant officers. 

According to the Complaint, the individually named defendant NYPD Officer stopped Erica as she was operating her automobile on or about March 11, 2013. At that time, the individually named NYPD agent made inappropriate comments toward Erica, including, "Don't worry, I got you." Thereafter, the officer touched Erica's breast and also forced her to keep the bathroom door at the precinct open while she used the bathroom. The NYPD Officer went on to promise Erica that he would make sure she didn't lose her job and that he would take care of helping her. The Complaint also alleges that the New York City Police Officer also commented to Erica that she could not be "all white/Caucasian because she had an ass like a Hispanic or black woman." The officer also decided to video record her buttocks while zooming in on her buttocks for his own personal and/or sexual gratification. Finally, the Complaint alleges, the officer explained to Erica that the officer was the key person who could "make or break" her going to jail. 

The Complaint goes on to allege that in furtherance of the wrongful conduct by the NYPD Officer against her, and on the advice of her privately retained criminal defense attorney, more than five hundred text messages were exchanged wherein the officer asked Erica out on a date and promised to help her with the criminal charges levied against her. Furthermore, the officer promised to talk to the district attorney to have the case against Erica dropped. After agreeing to meet the officer for sushi, the officer asked Erica to go out for another drink at a nearby bar. The next thing Erica knew, according to the Complaint, she woke up in the Officer's apartment with a black eye and other bruising. The case is 1:14-cv-4084 and the presiding judge is The Honorable Laura Taylor Swain. 


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Why Do People Confess to Crimes They Haven’t Committed?

It happens every day in police stations across New York City and across the country: people confess to crimes they didn’t commit. Why would anyone do that? One local advocacy group thinks a fragile mental state of those being held in custody may be to blame in many situations.  

The Innocence Project is a non-profit legal organization based in New York City at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University. It was founded in 1992 to help prisoners who could be proven innocent through DNA testing.

To date, according to the project’s website, more than 300 people in the United States have been exonerated by DNA testing, including 18 who served time on death row. They state that in about 30% of DNA exoneration cases, innocent defendants made incriminating statements, delivered outright confessions or pleaded guilty.

The group explains that there are many reasons for false confessions and there may be more than one in a particular case.

These include:

  • Duress
  • Coercion
  • Intoxication
  • Diminished capacity
  • Mental impairment
  • Ignorance of the law
  • Fear of violence
  • Being harmed while under arrest
  • The threat of a harsh sentence
  • Misunderstanding the situation

The person’s mental state is key in these situations. At the time, for whatever reason, these people in custody thought they would be better off by giving a false confession. Some common scenarios include:

  • Unreliable confessions by juveniles because they can be easy to manipulate and are not always fully aware of their situation.

  • Children and adults both may think they can “go home” as soon as they admit guilt.

  • People with mental disabilities often falsely confess because they want to accommodate and agree with authority figures. Making the situation worse, many law enforcement interrogators have no special training on questioning those with mental disabilities.

  • Mentally capable adults can give false confessions due to the length of interrogation, exhaustion or a belief that they can be released after confessing and prove their innocence later.

It’s never a good idea for a criminal suspect to confess to a crime, whether the suspect committed the crime or not, before speaking with an attorney. Always take advantage of your rights and speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney before answering questions or talking to police. If you did commit the crime and genuinely want to confess, an attorney can apprise you of your rights so you can fully understand the impact a confession will have. Your attorney may be also able to negotiate a lesser charge or sentence in exchange for that confession.

If you have been charged with a crime in New York City and falsely confessed to those charges, contact our office so we can discuss the situation with you and your options moving forward.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

NYC To Pay $40 Million to Settle False Arrest and Imprisonment Lawsuit

As part of a promise that had been made by recently elected NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, the City of NY has finally agreed to settle the claims of five men surrounding the Central Park Jogger Case. The ink has yet to dry on the deal however, because it must still be approved by the New York City Comptroller and The Honorable Deborah A. Batts, who is the federal judge in the Southern District of NY overseeing the case. If the settlement is finally approved, each of the five men will effectively be compensated about $1,000,000.00 for each year they spent in prison. 

The case concerns an incident dating back to 1989 when a woman who had been jogging in NYC's Central Park was brutally raped. The incident grabbed media headlines and five young men, who were all Hispanic or black, were arrested and charged with the heinous crime. The five men, who ranged in ages of fourteen to sixteen at the time of their arrests were all found guilty after trial and sentenced to prison. More than a decade later, the Manhattan DA's Office found evidence including DNA that proved another individual had actually been the perpetrator and he confessed that he acted alone and not with any of the five young men who had been convicted of the crime.  

The false arrest, false conviction and false imprisonment of the five young men was the subject of a film entitled The Central Park Five and the woman who was the victim of the crime wrote a book called I Am The Central Park Jogger. The proposed settlement, if finally approved, may been seen as indicative of the new mayor's commitment to seeing that injustices are compensated for. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Criminal Charges of Forcible Touching and Sexual Abuse

Ask people what they think of when they hear the terms "forcible touching" or "sexual abuse" and most people will cringe conjuring up the most horrific of images and thoughts. The reality is, anyone who rides the New York City subway system can conceivably be facing such allegations as a client of the Firm found out himself. 

In the Firm's client's case, the client had been heading home from work and boarded a crowded southbound #6 train on Manhattan's Upper East Side. Upon boarding the train, he felt himself pushed from behind by a woman who turned out to be an undercover NYC police officer. That undercover NYC police officer had pushed the Firm's client into another female undercover NYC police officer and the Firm's client subsequently found himself being criminally charged with forcible touching and sexual abuse in the third degree. Thankfully, our criminal justice system presumes that an accused is innocent until proven guilty and an accused is entitled to a trial. However, it is nonetheless scary to think that a person can find themselves facing criminal charges that cast them in such a negative light when they never did anything wrong in the first place. 

Sexual Abuse in the 3rd degree is a class B misdemeanor and if convicted, will leave an individual with a permanent criminal record and the crime of forcible touching is a class A misdemeanor. The New York City Criminal Court system is a confusing web for a person accused of a crime who has never been in such a system before and therefore, competent legal representation is advisable. 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Brooklyn Man Files His Amended Complaint Alleging False Arrest

On June 12, 2014, David S. filed his Amended Complaint in the Eastern District of New York Federal Court. The filing is 14-CV-0754 and David has included numerous causes of action, including unlawful search and seizure, false arrest, failure to intervene, unreasonable force and first amendment retaliation. In sum, the Amended Complaint alleges that the City of New York, by and through the New York City Police Department, which they manage and control, caused the violation of David's first, fourth, fifth and fourteenth amendment rights as set forth in the United States Constitution. 

According to the allegations within the filing, David was walking within the New York City Subway System with his brother and brother's boyfriend on January 25, 2014, when the Incident occurred. As David was walking past the NYPD Officers, he heard the officers question his brother in a derogatory and anti-gay manner. As such, David questioned the officers,"What happened to the courtesy, professionalism and respect?" which apparently angered the officers. In response, and in retaliation for David's question posed to the NYPD officers, the officers assaulted him, by physically throwing him to the ground and grinding his head into the concrete platform. As a result of the officers' assault, David was caused to suffer facial wounds which included cuts to his nose and abrasions to his forehead, resulting in bleeding. Thereafter, David was arraigned in Criminal Court and he learned that he had been charged with resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. At arraignment, the matter was adjourned in contemplation of dismissal, also referred to as ACD. ACD just means that the case will be dismissed after some set period of time (usually six months or one year) as long as there are no new arrests within that period of time. 

David's unreasonable force claim pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983 alleges that the NYPD officers used unreasonable force against him when they assaulted him. If David's case goes to trial, a jury will be charged with deciding whether the NYPD officers acted reasonably when they ground his head into the concrete subway platform in light of the fact that David was unarmed. 


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Large Award in H&M False Arrest Case

A jury awarded 59 year old Brenda Moaning over $100,000 against H&M for false arrest, battery and punitive damages.  The incident leading to allegations of false arrest and battery took place in May 2011 at the grand opening of a local H&M store in Oregon

Moaning was shopping at the grand opening.  She was wearing a dress she had purchased from the store the day before.  She was immediately the target of video surveillance.  For 15 minutes, she was repeatedly recorded shopping and eventually heading to the checkout line.  The video shows Moaning getting on line and talking with the cashier.  Moaning has clarified that at this time she was inquiring about pre-paying for a $5 shirt which was up in the front of the store.  She is then seen paying for her items.  Later, the video records her walking to the front of the store picking up the shirt she pre-paid for and putting it in her bag.  At this time, two security guards grab Moaning by the arms to detain her.  She tried to explain to them that she pre-paid for the shirt but this does not have any effect. She has also stated that she tried to get them to look at the receipt but they would not.  At some point, the cashier also informed the security guards that Moaning paid for the shirt but she was still detained.

Moaning was brought to a security room by force.  She was held there against her will for a period of time.  She testified that while being questioned the security guards told her that she looked like a common thief.  Apparently, H&M has stated that Moaning was yelling, cursing and issuing threats of a lawsuit during this time which Moaning has denied.  Moaning was awarded $105,000 for claims of false arrest stemming from the time she was held by H&M employees.  The award also compensates her for battery resulting from the force used by security guards to detain her and for punitive damages.  Punitive damages are awarded in cases where the court feels the defendant should be punished for their wrong beyond having to compensate the victim for losses.  Moaning also made a claim for racial discrimination which was not found to be a valid claim.

If you or someone you know has a question false arrest call New York City attorney Michael J. Redenburg at (212)240-9465 for a consultation.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Attorney Michael J. Redenburg Named a 2014 SuperLawyers Rising Star

Attorney Michael J. Redenburg, whose practice concentrates in criminal defense, false arrest and select employment related matters has been named a 2014 40 Under 40 SuperLawyer. SuperLawyers is a rating service of Thomson Reuters which compiles information to honor outstanding lawyers and which also serves as a relevant resource for the public. On an annual basis, SuperLawyers recognizes attorneys who have significant professional accomplishment, peer recognition and other outstanding achievements. The 40 Under 40 SuperLawyers designation is given to select attorneys in each state who are either 40 years or younger or in practice for 10 years or less.

The SuperLawyers nomination process is multi-tiered and rigorous and includes creation of a candidate pool through formal nominations by peers, a research process, informal nominations, evaluation of the candidates, peer evaluation by practice group and final selection. The methodology employed in the selection process is both comprehensive and complex and an attorney cannot "buy their way in" to the list. Further, both courts and bar associations across the country have recognized the legitimacy of the selection process. And while up to 5% of lawyers in each state are named to the SuperLawyer list on an annual basis, no more than 2.5% are named to the 40 Under 40 Rising Stars List. Michael Redenburg is honored to be named to the 2014 40 Under 40 Rising Stars SuperLawyer List.

In 2013, Attorney Redenburg achieved two acquittals in a row in Kings County Supreme Court and Manhattan Criminal Court. He has represented hundreds of individuals being charged with crimes ranging from riding a bicycle on the sidewalk to attempted murder. Mr. Redenburg has also represented dozens of individuals who have alleged that they have been the victim of police misconduct and false arrest, and who file civil actions, seeking money damages from the City of New York. Finally, Attorney Redenburg has worked closely with a team of lawyers throughout the country representing employees whose employers fail to pay them properly in class and collective action lawsuits.

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