Criminal Law Blog

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Does New York Have Special Courts for Prostitution Cases?

New York has a statewide system of courts whose goal is to help those working as prostitutes have the opportunity to start new lives. This approach is the result of the belief of many criminal justice experts that prostitution results from coercion, not choice, according to Reuters.

Prostitution has been called “modern day slavery” because most of those involved are being exploited by others, either due to threats of physical violence, drug addiction or because a prostitute is in the country illegally and owes money to human traffickers and fears deportation. The state legislature has passed a number of prostitution-related statutes that shift the focus of law enforcement from the prostitutes to the pimps that exploit them and those who hire them.

The cases that go to these specials courts are those that have not been concluded at arraignment through a guilty plea or a dismissal. Judges assigned these cases work with prosecutors and defense attorneys to decide if a defendant needs services such as housing, medical and drug treatment, job training and education.

There are a variety of nonprofits offering services through the court. Some have ties to sex worker communities and others serve certain ethnic groups. Many of these organizations provide a wide range of services, including yoga classes, art or group therapy. Individuals charged with prostitution may also be assigned social workers who can help defendants with immigration, housing or child care problems.

Most defendants are offered six sessions with intervention programs and if the sessions are completed, defendants are eligible for an Adjournment for Contemplation of Dismissal. If there is no arrest for six months, the original charges are dismissed. This system is especially helpful for first offenders.

This special court system, the first of its kind in the country, started in 2013. It’s modeled on pilot programs in Manhattan, Queens and Nassau County that had operated for several years.

If you have been arrested in the New York area on a prostitution-related charge in the New York City area, prostitution defense attorney Michael J. Redenburg can help. Contact him at (212)240-9465 and schedule a free consultation. 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Nail Salon Workers Demand Minimum Wages and Overtime Pay in New York

Earlier this year, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that he planned a full scale investigation into numerous issues that face nail salon workers throughout Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan and the Bronx. One of those issues are the potential health risks the manicurists face due to their exposure to the fumes and chemicals from the nail polishing agents. The mayor promised to begin planning a 'day of action' to bring these issues to light. In a statement, Mayor de Blasio has been quoted as saying, "We will use all available powers to shield nail salon workers from deplorable conditions, empower them with awareness of their rights, and offer every other support we can to ensure the safety and dignity of our hardworking fellow New Yorkers."

The other issue that NY manicurists face are the sub-par wages they receive. It has been widely reported that many nail salon workers throughout the city are not paid NY minimum wage and NY overtime pay in accordance with state and federal law. In fact, according to a recent lawsuit filed in the Southern District of New York, some salon workers from the Upper East Side of NY claim that they were routinely paid only sixty ($60.00) dollars a day for ten hour shifts, and also denied meal and rest breaks. The legal claims brought in the lawsuit go back six years for the state law claims under the New York Labor Law and three years under federal law, if the violations were willful. Many observers believe that the recently filed lawsuit against Nailsway, Naulo Nails, Nailsmetic and Nailscure is likely to be one of many, now that the rampant exploitation of these workers has been exposed.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Was Freddy Gray the Victim of a False Arrest?

Freddy Gray was the African American male who died while in police custody in Baltimore on April 12, 2015. His death sparked riots in the city and protests throughout the country concerning police treatment of suspects and the public, especially African Americans. His case was investigated and six police officers have been charged with various crimes related to his death. Following the criminal charges, many (including counsel for the police officers) have questioned whether Mr. Gray should have been arrested in the first place.

The charge against Gray (he had an illegal switchblade in his possession) was false, according to Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, reports the Washington Post. She has stated his folding knife is legal under Maryland law and he was falsely arrested. If true, that false arrest resulted in Gray’s death.

Attorneys representing two of the accused police officers have a different view, according to CNN. They have filed motions allowing them to inspect the knife. They claim the knife was illegal under Baltimore code so Gray's arrest was lawful, essentially stating it was these two officers who were falsely arrested.

Court documents describe the knife as a "spring-assisted, one-hand-operated knife" which Mosby stated was not a switchblade. Switchblades are illegal in Maryland and defense attorney Andrew Alperstein states it’s also illegal to have a spring action knife in Baltimore. The police investigation into the incident found the knife was illegal under city code.

Alperstein’s clients are charged with two counts of second-degree assault, two counts of misconduct in office and one count of false imprisonment based on the assumption that Gray's arrest was unlawful, because it was legal to carry his knife. Alperstein contends that if the knife was illegal, the arrest was lawful so his clients did not commit any crimes.

The facts are not clear yet as to whether or not Gray was falsely arrested but there is absolutely no doubt that he should have survived his arrest. Only time will tell how the criminal charges and the inevitable civil lawsuit by Gray’s family will be resolved.

If you believe you have been falsely arrested and suffered physical or emotional harm in police custody, Attorney Michael J. Redenburg can help. He is experienced in representing victims of false arrest in the New York City area. Call his office at (212) 240-9465 today for a free case evaluation.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Can I Be Arrested for Standing Up for What’s Right?

Given our country’s long and illustrious history of civil disobedience and community involvement, it should not happen, but individuals are occasionally arrested for standing up for what they believe is right. Unfortunately, speaking your piece when you see something unjust may annoy or inconvenience a member of law enforcement, resulting in a false arrest. One such case involves Brooklyn law student Tzvi Richt. He sued the city in federal court in Brooklyn for false arrest and received a $15,000 settlement along with $45,000 to pay his attorney’s fees, according to the Daily News.

There are just some things that are wrong and when Richt saw it for himself he could not keep his opinion to himself, even when two of the city’s finest (Officers Graham Brathwaite and Jason Pinero of the 61st Precinct) committed the wrongdoing. According to another Daily News piece, the two police officers chased Richt’s car from a bus stop, which would have been all well and good if it stopped there, but the officers then parked in the same spot so they could have easy access to a food truck.

According to his lawsuit Richt told the officer what they did was wrong “in a normal tone of voice, not yelling or shouting.” An officer told him to mind his own business and demanded his identification. Richt questioned the legality of his request and he was handcuffed in response.

The summonses were later dismissed. Braithwaite was given desk duty while the Civilian Complaint Review Board investigated Richt’s allegation that the summonses were baseless and issued in retaliation for his protests. The board found Richt’s allegations were substantiated.

A City Law Department spokesman said settling the case was in the best interests of the city.

Michael J. Redenburg, Esq., is an experienced criminal defense attorney who also regularly represents victims of wrongful arrest, stop and frisk and false arrest in civil lawsuits against The City of New York in federal court. If you, or a loved one, have been falsely arrested call his office today at (212)240-9465 so you can discuss what happened, the applicable laws and your possible options for seeking compensation.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Are Criminal Laws Ever Taken Off the Books?

Legislatures are by their nature political and no one ever got elected on a “soft on crime” platform. Talking tough gets more attention than talking sense when it comes to law enforcement issues. Consequently, when there are changes in the law, they are normally aimed at making more actions illegal and increasing penalties. If a criminal statute is struck down by the courts, a legislature may not get around to repealing it, and it may just linger on as a zombie statute that is alive on the books but not enforced.

As of the end of March, the estimated total number of non-federal prisoners in the state of New York was 78,618, according to the New York State Commission of Correction. In 2013 the city had an average of 12,287 prisoners in their system each day at an average cost of about $167,000 per inmate, reports the New York Post. That is more than three times the median income for a New York City resident from 2009-2013 ($52,259), according to the U.S. Census Bureau and more than three times the cost of a New York resident undergraduate attending and living at Cornell University for a year ($49,354).

Going beyond the societal problems of having more and more of the nation’s population incarcerated (especially its minority population, with the 2013 New York City prison population 57% black, 33% Hispanic and 7% white, according to the Post), just the economic argument we need to lock up fewer people would seem to make sense.

But sense only gets you so far in politics. In April, the City Council got an ear full from critics at a public hearing about a plan to decriminalize some low level crimes (such as public urination, failure to appear, public drinking and littering), making them punishable by civil fines, according to the Daily News.  The proposal is supported by City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

Critics state many of those cited for these issues do not pay fines currently, so the proposal will not solve any of these problems in the future. Critics also claim that police can demand some form of identification when writing a criminal summons, but not civil tickets, so the proposal will result in fewer people with pending arrest warrants being apprehended.

Since you cannot expect any kind of criminal law reform any time soon, if you are being investigated for alleged criminal wrongdoing or are facing charges, you need to take action to protect your rights. Michael J. Redenburg, Esq. is an experienced New York City criminal defense attorney who can help. Call his office today at (212)240-9465 for a free case evaluation so you can discuss your situation and your options.

Friday, May 08, 2015

Coney Island Brooklyn Man Files False Arrest Complaint in Federal Court

The First Incident

On May 25, 2014, Dwayne G. was walking in the vicinity of W16th Street and Mermaid Avenue in Brooklyn, NY, when he was accosted by three (3) individuals who he later learned were plain clothes NYPD Officers. The officers grabbed Dwayne and frisked him, finding no weapons or contraband on his person.The officers then handcuffed him and told him that he was being arrested for selling marijuana. He was then transported to the 60th Precinct where he spent approximately eight (8) hours before being transported to Central Booking. He subsequently spent about thirteen (13) hours at Central Booking awaiting arraignment and once before a Criminal Court Judge, Plaintiff learned that he was being criminally charged with violating NY PL §§221.10 and 221.05, Criminal Possession of Marijuana and Unlawful Possession of Marijuana. At arraignment, Dwayne was released on his own recognizance and was then required to return to court two (2) times before the matter was eventually adjourned in contemplation of dismissal.

The Second Incident

On September 3, 2014, Dwayne was in a delicatessen in the vicinity of W16th Street and Mermaid Avenue in Brooklyn, NY, when all of a sudden, and without warning, six (6) individuals who he later learned were plain clothes NYPD Officers entered the store. The officers began frisking everyone, including Dwayne. The officers grabbed him and frisked him, finding no weapons or contraband on his person. He was then transported to the 60th Precinct where he spent approximately seven (7) hours before being transported to Central Booking.  Then he spent about thirteen (13) hours at Central Booking awaiting arraignment and once before a Criminal Court Judge, he learned that he was being criminally charged with violating NY PL §§221.40, 221.10 and 221.05, Criminal Sale of Marijuana, Criminal Possession of Marijuana and Unlawful Possession of Marijuana. At arraignment, Dwayne was released on his own recognizance and was then required to return to court four (4) times before the matter was eventually adjourned in contemplation of dismissal. As a result of the foregoing Incidents, Dwayne suffered unlawful detentions, loss of liberty, emotional distress, fear, anxiety, humiliation and degradation – all to his detriment. 

 Michael Redenburg represents Dwayne as well as countless other victims of false arrest and police misconduct.

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Court Rules That Outstanding Warrants Do Not Shield Police for Liability for False Arrest

Can I sue for wrongful arrest even if I have an outstanding warrant on other charges?

The fact that a suspect has a bench warrant outstanding for one crime does not mean that police can avoid liability for false arrest if they detain him illegally on other charges.  So says a recent New York Appellate Division ruling.

Malvin Omar Urena had an outstanding arrest warrant for littering.  In 2013, police arrested him during a buy-and-bust drug operation.  At the time of that arrest, he was "socializing with friends" in the courtyard of a building in the Bronx.  When the police arrived, he interfered with their buy-and-bust operation by warning others with shouts of "police, police, police."  

He was arrested for obstruction of governmental administration. The Bronx District Attorney's Office declined to prosecute on that charge, however, and the DA's office stated in an affidavit that there was no probable cause to support the arrest. 

Police did not discover Urena's bench warrant for littering until hours after they arrested him.  They detained him for more than 24 hours before he was released, according to the court's opinion.

The police claimed that, because Urena had a warrant for littering, arresting him on the obstruction charge was "privileged," even though that charge was dropped.  An appellate panel disagreed.

The fact that he was subject to a warrant on the unrelated littering charge did not shield police from liability for false arrest on a new charge.

The case may break new legal ground in New York and is an important lesson for those who believe they have been mistreated, wrongfully arrested, or illegally detained by police.

It may be true that, if you are lawfully arrested, having outstanding warrants can make your situation worse.  But if the police had no grounds to arrest you, those warrants cannot be used to excuse police misconduct.  You may be able to file a claim for police abuse when unlawfully arrested even if you are subject to arrest for a previous act.

Michael J. Redenburg, Esq. PC has years of experience handling false arrest, police misconduct, racial profiling, and similar cases.  Regardless of whether you have outstanding warrants, if you feel you have been a victim of police abuse, procedural misconduct or illegal detention, call him at 212-240-9465 for an evaluation of your case. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Brooklyn Wrongful Arrest Victim Files False Arrest Lawsuit

A Brooklyn man has filed a false arrest lawsuit after he alleges two Incidents that resulted in his arrest and prosecution, only to have the criminal cases adjourned in contemplation of dismissal.     

     The First Incident

On July 18, 2014, Paul S. had been lawfully visiting his friend Keith’s home and in the early afternoon, Keith had gone outside to check his mail. While outside, NYPD Officers approached Keith and asked him for identification. In response, Keith replied that his identification was in his apartment and so the officers went to the apartment where Paul was.  Paul was sitting on the couch when the NYPD Officers rushed into the home, screaming at Paul to “get up” and asking him where Keith’s identification was. Paul then queried of the officers as to whether they had a search warrant and in response, and in retaliation for his query, the officers told him to “shut up,” and then he was handcuffed. Paul was then transported to the 67th Precinct where he spent approximately 3 hours before being transported to Central Booking. He then spent about 29 hours at Central Booking awaiting arraignment and once before a Criminal Court Judge, he learned that he was being criminally charged with violating NY PL §220.03, Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Seventh Degree. He was required to return to court approximately 4-5 times before the matter was eventually adjourned in contemplation of dismissal.

      The Second Incident

On August 5, 2014, Paul had been lawfully at the home of another person, Shabazz, when NYPD Officers began knocking on the door and Shabazz. Next, the NYPD Officers began kicking the door and subsequently, ramming the door in, instructing everyone, including Paul to “get down.” The officers then began checking everyone’s person for contraband and Paul did not have any weapons or contraband on his person. Paul was then arrested and taken to the 67th Precinct for processing, where he spent about 3 hours. After spending approximately 19 hours in Brooklyn Central Booking, he went before a Criminal Court Judge, where he learned that he had been criminally charged with violating NY PL §220.03, Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Seventh Degree.  Paul was required to return to court approximately 4-5 times before the matter was eventually adjourned in contemplation of dismissal. As a result of the foregoing Incidents, Paul suffered unlawful detentions, loss of liberty, emotional distress, fear, anxiety, humiliation and degradation – all to his detriment. 

Michael Redenburg represents Paul and regularly represents individuals in false arrest cases throughout New York City.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Criminal Convictions and Long-Term Job Prospects in New York State.

Can a Criminal Conviction Affect Your Career and Livelihood for Years or Even Decades?

It is often difficult for individuals with criminal convictions to find and obtain a job. For many years, employers have conducted background checks regarding felony and misdemeanor convictions and, more recently, even credit scores. 

However, criminal background checks have posed new and more long-term problems for individuals and, some say, society at large.  Employers can now uncover criminal records from past decades and distant jurisdictions more easily than ever by using online background check resources.  Employers are expected by many to use online resources to protect assets, employees and children (in the case of schools and other child-focused businesses).  Even low-end jobs such as fast food workers now routinely face criminal background checks.  As such, the national workforce is significantly reduced when convicted individuals are not hired, because they now comprise 34 percent of all non-working adult men between the ages of 25 and 54.

In a case that is close to home, Michael Mirsky was convicted for resisting arrest in 2012.  Upon losing his job, his life was disproportionately affected by his single non-violent and non-theft crime.  He was unable to get a job in his field due partly to his criminal record and unable to perform some functions at his church.  His home is in the process of being foreclosed upon due to his unemployment and his savings are gone.  He is also in arrears for child support payments (resulting in an automatic arrest under New Jersey law).

If you have been arrested in the New York area, now is the time to try and keep your record clean by avoiding a conviction. New York criminal defense attorney Michael J. Redenburg can help. Attorney Redenburg handles a wide range of criminal cases and has helped many clients avoid conviction via dismissals and acquittals.  To contact the law firm of Michael J. Redenburg, Esq. and schedule a free consultation, call (212)240-9465 today.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Queens False Arrest Victim to Receive $20,000.00 Settlement

Rohan B. is slated to receive a $20K Settlement from the City of New York to resolve his allegations of assault and false arrest, which took place in the summer of 2014.

The Incident had taken place on July 17, 2014, at or about 3:20 PM, on Beach 20th Street, Far Rockaway, Queens NY. Rohan was lawfully walking and heading home from work and had in his hand a clear cup with ginger-ale in it. He then noticed two uniformed NYPD Officers on bicycles ride past him going the opposite direction, and then noticed the officers start following him. Ultimately, one of the officers came up beside him and asked him what he was drinking, to which he responded that he was drinking juice.


Next, an NYPD Officer pulled his bicycle in front of Rohan and grabbed his soft drink, placing it on the floor. An NYPD Officer then forcefully pushed Plaintiff against the fence which hurt him. Thereafter, another bicycling NYPD Officer began punching Rohan, an unarmed African-American man with no criminal record, in the stomach at least five (5) times, causing him a lot of pain. His arm was then twisted and he was grabbed by the neck by an NYPD Officer and “back-up” was called for. Rohan was then arrested and taken to the 101st Precinct where he was fingerprinted, photographed and processed. He then spent about eleven (11) hours at the precinct before being transported to Central Booking. Subsequently, and at his Criminal Court Arraignment, Rohan learned that he had been criminally charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. At arraignment, the matter was adjourned in contemplation of dismissal. 

Michael Redenburg represented Rohan and regularly represents false arrest victims throughout the City of NY.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Bronx False Arrest Lawsuit filed in Federal Court

Following a 2015 Bronx false arrest, Joel B. retains Michael Redenburg to represent him in a civil rights action against the City of NY.

The Incident which is the subject of the Complaint took place at approximately 5:00 p.m. on or near 168th Street between Ogden Avenue and Nelson Avenue, in Bronx County on January 20, 2015. Joel was in the front passenger seat of his friend’s car when a marked NYPD signaled for them to pull over to the side of the road. Two uniformed NYPD officers then exited the marked NYPD car; one approached the driver’s side of the vehicle and the other approached the passenger side of the vehicle where Joel was. The officers then instructed that the car windows be rolled down and the driver of the vehicle complied with the Officer’s instructions, lowering the car windows. Next the Officers explained that the reason they stopped the vehicle was for tinted windows.

One of the NYPD officers then instructed Joel to unfasten his seatbelt and exit the vehicle. As he was complying with the officer’s instructions, the officer unlocked the car door, grabbed Joel’s right hand and causing his phone to fall to the ground. Joel had been trying to record the unfolding Incident with his cell phone which had been in his left hand. Next, an NYPD officer pushed Plaintiff against the police car and searched him. The officer’s search of Joel’s person did not reveal any weapons, drugs or contraband. Nevertheless, the officer handcuffed him and led him to the police vehicle. The NYPD Officer then slammed him against the police vehicle, kneed him in the groin and transported him to the 44th Precinct.

He was held at the 44th Precinct for about two (2) hours and then released with a pink ticket, charging him with Disorderly Conduct. As such, he retained private criminal defense counsel at his own expense to represent him in criminal court. At the first court appearance on March 23, 2015, the matter was completely dismissed in the entirety. As a result of the foregoing, Joel alleges that he suffered an unlawful detention, loss of liberty, emotional distress, fear, anxiety, humiliation, degradation, pain and incurred attorneys fees – all to his detriment and loss.

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