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Arthur L. Pressman, Attorney at Law
Our firm offers 24/7 communication to address your concerns and answer your questions. Never submit to police questioning without our firm at your side. We have been providing strong criminal defense in Buffalo, Amherst, and throughout Western New York for more than 30 years.
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CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY BUFFALO NY
Effective Representation Against Any Type Of Criminal Charges
Over the years, Buffalo Criminal Defense Attorney Pressman has effectively handled thousands of criminal cases in the Buffalo area, including:
- DUI/DWI: If you have been charged with a DUI (driving under the influence)/DWI (driving while intoxicated) in the Buffalo area, it is essential to contact an experienced Buffalo Criminal Defense Attorney to act on your behalf immediately to protect your rights.
- Drug crimes: Not all drug charges result in the same penalties in New York. Having the right Criminal Defense Attorney can be the difference between a minimum sentence or years in prison.
- Domestic violence: Domestic violence cases frequently involve false allegations. Charges often arise in emotionally wrought situations and can have a devastating cascading effect on your family and future.
- Fraud: Fraud can be difficult to prosecute in New York. Prosecutors must establish intent of the accused to defraud others. Rely on a savvy Buffalo Criminal Defense Attorney who has extensive experience working with prosecutors to prepare your defense.
- Theft: If you are accused of crimes that involve stealing, such as shoplifting, petty larceny, grand larceny, burglary, robbery, criminal possession of stolen property, forgery or fraud, Buffalo Criminal Defense Attorney Pressman provides stellar defense.
- Violent crimes: Violent crimes in New York have some of the most severe punishments in the country. Violent crimes include assault, robbery, gun and weapon possession, rape, murder, kidnapping, burglary, harassment, intimidating a witness, unlawful imprisonment and aggravated harassment.
Consequences Of Criminal Charges
In the United States, crimes are categorized three different ways:
Infractions are minor charges and are rarely used except in juvenile cases or non-moving violations. Misdemeanors are less serious than felonies but still carry fines and the potential for jail. Felonies are very serious offenses that are usually punished with jail time and fines. It is important to have an knowledgeable Buffalo Criminal Defense Attorney in your court.
People often underestimate the impact of having even a misdemeanor on their record. The reality is that any type of crime can go on your permanent record and can surface in the future and be used in future employment evaluations.
Our Buffalo Criminal Defense Attorney is committed to providing personal attention to every client. Being accused of a crime can put a significant amount of stress on you and your family. Buffalo Criminal Defense Attorney Pressman is committed to handling your case aggressively to defend your rights.
When Good People Find Themselves In Tough Situations
Timing is important to defend you in the most positive way and to prepare a solid criminal defense. If you or a family member is in need of an experienced attorney who is familiar with criminal defense laws in NY state, contact experienced Buffalo Criminal Defense Attorney Arthur L. Pressman at (716) 200-4625 or online. For your convenience, our office is on the subway line, and we offer a free initial phone consultation seven days a week.
DUI Criminal Defense Attorney In Buffalo, NY
When you have been arrested for driving while being intoxicated, you could be facing serious penalties.
A DWI can be traumatic, embarrassing and result in serious consequences. In New York, driving while intoxicated (DWI) is a criminal offense and, if you are convicted, can result in a criminal record, suspension of your license, fines and often jail time or probation.
What to do if you are charged with a DWI
If you are charged with a DWI, you are probably wondering:
- What are my rights?
- Will I lose my license?
- Do I need to hire a criminal defense attorney in Buffalo, NY?
What constitutes impairment?
If the police in New York believe that your driving ability is impaired, and you are found to be under the influence of prescription or illegal drugs or alcohol, you may be charged with driving while impaired by drugs. It is imperative to have a dedicated criminal defense attorney in Buffalo, NY in your corner. These are serious charges that carry serious DWI penalties, In the state of New York, the following blood alcohol contents (BACs) result in a DWI:
- 02 for ages under 21
- 08 for ages 21 and older
- 04 for commercial drivers
Challenging a DWI in New York can be difficult and requires an experienced criminal defense attorney in Buffalo, NY to prove that an error occurred during your arrest or alcohol testing. Your DWI case is thoroughly examined to ensure that your constitutional rights have not been violated.
Possible types of challenges include the following:
- The validity of the stop: A possible error that can be made is when the police officer is lacking probable cause for making the stop.
- The qualifications of the person conducting the test: The person conducting the test or operating the machine must be certified or qualified in accordance with the law of the state. The testing can be ruled invalid if any discrepancy is discovered.
- The accuracy of the evidence presented: Conducting a thorough investigation of the arrest report and data gathered, including breath tests and blood work. It is easy for labs to make errors that affect data.
Understanding DWI Penalties In New York. Contact A Criminal Defense Attorney In Buffalo, NY
A DWI conviction can result in immediate and serious consequences. Drunk driving penalties in New York are severe and can have a cascading effect on your driving privileges, employment, and assets.
Know what charges you are up against
Knowing the situations in which you can be charged with a DWI/DUI is important. New York prosecutes those who commit the following crimes:
- Driving while intoxicated: You may be convicted of a DWI if your blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.08% or higher, and you demonstrate other evidence of intoxication.
- Driving while ability impaired by alcohol (DWAI-Alcohol): In New York, you may be convicted of a DWAI-Alcohol if you have a BAC of between 0.05% and 0.07% or if you show other evidence that you are impaired.
- Driving while ability impaired by a drug other than alcohol (DWAI-Drug): This charge can result if you are found to be impaired by chemical substances other than alcohol.
- Refusal to take a chemical test: When you refuse to take alcohol testing by blood or urine, or by a host of other means, at the very least, your license may be revoked and you’ll have to pay a $500 civil penalty.
- Zero tolerance law: If you are a New York driver under the age of 21, you are charged with a DWI if you are found to have any traces of alcohol in your system while driving.
- Multiple DWI convictions: Prior DWIs can lead to harsher penalties if you are convicted. Even a single prior offense can quadruple jail time and double fines.
Consequences to your driving privileges
If you are convicted in the state of New York for a DWI, DUI or DWAI, or for refusing to submit to testing, you may be subject to the following penalties:
- Suspension or revocation of your driving privileges
- Revocation of your drivers license (minimum one year) for refusal to take a chemical BAC test
- Fines of up to $2,500 for a first offense
- Fees and surcharges for a conditional license or new license application
- Fees for any treatment/educational classes
Denying yourself the proper representation may have devastating consequences for your future, especially for multiple violations. Having a tenacious criminal defense attorney in Buffalo, NY on your side can make all the difference.
Minimizing the Consequences of an Underage DWI
New York has a zero-tolerance law for motorists under the age of 21 who drink and drive. While the threshold for blood alcohol content in a standard DWI is 0.08 percent, a driver under the age of 21 can be cited for as little as 0.02 percent BAC. That means that young drivers who might not even be impaired can face criminal charges and administrative penalties.
Penalties for underage DWI in New York
Penalties for an underage DWI depend on the driver’s BAC:
- At least 0.02 but not more than 0.07 percent — This may lead to a charge of “driving after having consumed alcohol,” a civil offense heard before an administrative judge of the Department of Motor Vehicles. Punishment is six-month license suspension and a $125 fine. If there is a prior conviction, the driver’s license is revoked for one year or until the driver reaches 21 years of age, whichever is longer.
- More than 0.05 but less than 0.08 percent — Police have the option to charge “driving while ability is impaired by alcohol” (DWAI), a traffic infraction heard in criminal court. A first-time conviction is punishable by up to 15 days in jail, a maximum $500 fine and a one-year license revocation.
- Between 0.07 and 0.08 percent — Police will charge DWAI.
- Equal to or greater than 0.08 percent — This is driving while intoxicated (DWI) per se. A first offense is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail, a maximum $1,000 fine and a revocation of your license for one year.
Moreover, since it is illegal for underage persons to consume alcohol, the arrest opens the door to additional charges based on the officer’s observations, such as possession of false identification, distributing alcohol to minors, and minor in possession of alcohol.
If you or your child has been arrested for a zero-tolerance DWI, there are ways that an experienced criminal defense attorney in Buffalo, NY can manage the case to mitigate the consequences. In rare cases, a police officer may have lacked reasonable suspicion for a traffic stop, so any evidence gathered is tainted and the charges go away. Authorities also make procedural errors occasionally that compromise forensic evidence, rendering it unreliable or inadmissible.
While such cases are as rare, there are additional pragmatic steps an experienced criminal defense attorney in Buffalo, NY can take to provide substantial assistance. As cited above, the authorities have discretion as to what offense they charge, and the court has broad discretion as to time served and fines imposed. A skilled criminal defense attorney in Buffalo, NY can often negotiate an appropriate reduction in charges and penalties. As for license suspensions, your criminal defense attorney in Buffalo, NY can make an effective argument for a restricted license that will allow a youth to commute to school and/or work.
More Information You Should Know About DWI Cases:
- What Should I Do if I Was Arrested for a First Time DWI?
A first-time offender in New York State who’s convicted of driving while intoxicated will have a criminal conviction. This will appear on your record both for your DMV and a criminal history the rest of your life. It is not sealed. It is not expunged. It will never go away. The first-time penalty for driving while intoxicated in New York State, is a six-month revocation of your license, a $500 minimum fine, and a $400 mandatory state surcharge. You will also have to install in your vehicle an interlock ignition device at your expense for at least six months. There is an installation cost and a monthly cost of having the interlock ignition device in your vehicle. You will also have to attend a victim impact panel. That is one class where you will meet people who have relatives or they themselves were victims of potential DWIs or accidents of someone who was DWI. To get a restricted or conditional license during the period of your revocation, you’ll have to attend an Impaired Driver Program. This is a program that is offered to give you a restricted license during the period of your revocation. The courts may, on their own discretion, impose other conditions. Sometimes it’s community service, sometimes it’s counseling, but there are a wide variety of options open to them.
- How Long Does a DWI Case Take?
There is no set answer. Each case is unique and based on the facts of your arrest. It can typically take anywhere between two to four months to resolve a DWI case. However, if you have a complicated case and a complicated set of facts it could take longer, sometimes up to one year.
- What is a DWAI?
During a DWI investigation, you may be charged with driving while your ability is impaired by alcohol. This means that your blood test reading was a 0.06 or 0.07, lower than the threshold for driving while intoxicated. This is a noncriminal traffic infraction. If you are convicted of driving while impaired by alcohol, you will not get a criminal record. However, your license may be suspended, and the court may impose mandatory surcharges and fines.
- What is an Alco-Sensor?
When you are pulled over for a DWI, a police officer may ask you to take a portable breath test. We call that the Alco-Sensor. That is a hand-held device that the officer uses to measure your blood alcohol in your system. This is not admissible in New York State court, but it does allow the officer to determine whether you have any alcohol in your system. The alco-sensor is just another tool in the arsenal that they use against you in determining whether you are driving while impaired or driving while intoxicated.
- Should I Take the Breath Test?
What most people don’t realize is there are several tests that you can refuse to take. Let’s start from the first moment that the police officer pulls you over. If you’ve been drinking, and you believe that you are impaired or intoxicated, you do not have to answer any questions about how much you had to drink or where you were drinking. You should always provide the officer with your license, your registration, and your insurance, but once he starts asking you questions about your alcohol consumption, you can say, “Officer, I’m not going to answer those questions.”
The next area where most people don’t realize that they can refuse is the field sobriety tests or the FSTs. Those are the tests when the officer has gotten you out of the vehicle and wants you to perform certain field sobriety tests on the side of the road. You are under no obligation to take any of those tests. You can refuse each one of those without penalty. This will prevent the officer from gathering evidence that may be harmful to your case.
The most common area of confusion is whether you should take the Alco Sensor test, which is on the side of the road. You do not have to take the Alco Sensor test. It is a traffic infraction for not taking that test, however, it is not a criminal offense to refuse the Alco Sensor test.
Once you’re back at the police station, this is where you are given the breathalyzer or the data master. These are machines. These machines will measure your blood alcohol in your system when you blow into it. This is not an easy question to answer. I tell most people that so much of this depends on how much they had to drink, when they had the drinks, whether they had anything to eat, and whether they have a prior conviction for any alcohol-related offense. These factors, only an experienced criminal defense attorney in Buffalo, NY can answer.
There is no right or wrong anymore on whether you should take the test, but please be aware in New York State, if you refuse to take a breathalyzer test back at the station, the Department of Motor Vehicles will impose sanctions on top of any criminal conviction or non-criminal conviction you will receive. The Department of Motor Vehicle will impose a one-year revocation of your license for a refusal. A refusal is refusal to take a breath test. There is also a civil penalty imposed by DMV for someone who refuses the breath test.
There is an administrative proceeding that you can have to fight whether you voluntarily refuse to take the breath test. This is given at a Department of Motor Vehicle hearing. The best course of action is to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in Buffalo, NY if the police officer lets you make a phone call.
- What are Some Typical Field Sobriety Tests?
When an officer pulls you over for a suspected DWI, he will typically have you removed from your vehicle to perform field sobriety tests, FSTs. There are many different types of field sobriety tests that are given, but the most common are the following: The HGN test, that stands for Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus. That is when an officer takes a penlight or a pen and brings it six inches in front of your eyes and moves it from side to side to see whether there are certain movements in your eye which detect alcohol in your system. Another common test is the walk and turn test. You will be asked to walk nine steps forward, heal-to-toe, make a turn, and come back nine steps the other way towards a police officer. You’re typically walking on an imaginary line, and the police officer is observing whether you are walking heal-to-toe, whether you’re walking straight, whether you use your arms for balance, and whether you fall or stumble during this test.
Another common test is the one-legged stand. You are asked to raise one of your legs six inches above the ground and hold it there for 30 seconds. Sometimes, you are required to count out-loud the 30 seconds. Other times, you are required to count silently to yourself. Again, in this instance, the officer is observing whether your leg is so many inches above the ground and whether you hold it up for 30 seconds. Another common test is the finger-to-nose test. This requires the person who is being observed to take the tip of one of his fingers, extend his arms out, and touch the tip of his nose, and do it with both hands. Typically, you must do it three times with each hand. With your head remaining straight and your body not swaying or moving at all. The officer is observing you for whether you follow the directions properly and whether you could touch the tip of your nose with your finger.
Another test given is called the Romberg Test. The Romberg test requires you to stand at attention with your feet together, tilt your head back, keep your arms at your side, and hold it there. The officer is looking to see whether you are swaying either side to side or back and forth. Another test given is the alphabet test. Surprisingly, most people who are intoxicated or impaired by alcohol or drugs are not able to perform this test. It’s usually as simple as saying the ABCs from A to Z or sometimes starting at the third or fourth letter such as C or D and finishing at W, but again, the officer is observing you as to whether you are following directions and whether you can say your ABCs.
- What Happens If I Get Arrested for a Second or Third Time DWI Offense?
If you are charged with a DWI in New York State, and you have a prior conviction for driving while intoxicated in the last 10 years, you will be charged with a felony. Ten years is the cut-off point in determining whether the case will remain a misdemeanor or a felony.
If you have a prior driving while impaired conviction within five years, penalties are increased. If you have three driving while impaired convictions within 10 years, what is normally a non-criminal infraction is elevated to a misdemeanor conviction. Remember, two driving while intoxicated convictions in 10 years is a felony. Three driving while impaired convictions in 10 years is a misdemeanor.
- Does the DMV Take Any Action Against Persistent Drunk Drivers?
Recently, the department of motor vehicles has begun the enforcement of persistent drunk drivers and persistent bad drivers. What this means is a person who has multiple DWI convictions or driving while impaired convictions over a certain period runs the risk of having their license revoked for 5 years, 10 years, or a lifetime. If you have 5 or more alcohol related convictions over the last 25 years, DMV may revoke your license for life. If you have several incidences of refusing to take a breath test along with a driving while impaired or driving while intoxicated conviction, the department of motor vehicles may revoke your license for 5, 10, or a lifetime. Please, be aware when consulting with a criminal defense attorney in Buffalo, NY, that you give them all the information regarding previous convictions for driving while intoxicated, driving while impaired, reckless driving, and any time you may have refused to take a breath test.
- What is Leandra’s Law?
Leandra’s Law is a new law in the last couple of years that the legislature enacted in New York State. This law means that if you are found to be in an intoxicated condition with a .08 or higher BAC in a vehicle where there is a child under 15 years of age, you may be charged with a felony. This means that you will be facing state prison time, a longer suspension or revocation of your license, and greater fines and penalties than being in a car with someone who is over 15.
- What is an Aggravated DWI?
If you are charged with an aggravated DWI in New York State, this means that you registered a .18 or higher when given a breathalyzer or blood test. The penalties and sanctions are more severe with an aggravated DWI. In New York State, for a first-time offender, your license will be revoked for one year, and the minimum fine will be $1000.
- What is an Interlock Ignition Device?
As of August 15, 2010, all drivers in New York State convicted of DWI have been required to install an ignition interlock device in the cars they own or operate and to have an ignition interlock restriction added to their license. The device must remain in the vehicle for at least six months. Longer periods are required for aggravated charges, such as extremely high blood alcohol content (BAC > 0.18) or driving while impaired with a child in the car.
- How does an ignition interlock device work?
Typically, the device is stored in the glove compartment and wired to the car’s ignition system. When the driver is ready to operate the vehicle, he or she must blow approximately 1.5 liters of air into a handheld alcohol sensing unit located on the dashboard. The device then processes the exhalant to determine if it is between the preset limits. If the exhalant tests over the limit, the engine will not start. If a driver attempts to use the vehicle without testing first, an alarm sounds, much like the panic button on an electronic key, and continues blaring until the engine is turned off.
Some devices are set to administer rolling tests, conducted while the vehicle is in motion. The driver must blow again. If the driver does not submit to the rolling test or tests over the limit at this juncture, an alarm sounds. The device will not cut off the ignition while the car is in motion, because such a power failure could be disastrous.
The device requires monthly maintenance to keep it well calibrated and to ensure no one is tampering with it. The device has a memory and records the driver’s BAC scores in data logs. Law enforcement or the court can request a print-out of those scores to monitor the driver’s compliance.
- Can I Get a DWI While Driving on My Prescription Medications?
Many people nowadays take prescription medication for pain relief or other ailments. I was recently in the court in the town of Elma representing a woman who was taking pain medication for a long-term back ailment. If you are driving under the influence of pain medication and you’ve exceeded the amount you’re supposed to take or it’s a narcotic and you are impaired by this narcotic, it is a crime in New York State. It is the same thing if you are convicted of driving while impaired by marijuana, cocaine, an opiate, or any type of prescription medication. You are not allowed to drive in New York State if you are impaired by the prescription medication you are taking.
- Is DWAI by Drugs Easier to Defend than DWI by Alcohol?
New York has a separate law that prohibits a person from operating a motor vehicle while the person’s ability is impaired by drugs. The penalties for DWAI-Drug convictions are the same as for driving while intoxicated (DWI).
- A first DWAI-Drugs charge carries a mandatory fine of $500 to $1,000, up to one year in jail and six-month license suspension.
- A second DWAI-Drugs charge within 10 years is a class E felony. The punishments are a fine of $1,000 to $5,000, and up to four years in prison. Your driving privilege is revoked for 18 months.
- A third offense within 10 years carries a fine of $2,000 to $10,000, up to seven years in prison and a revocation of driver’s license for 18 months.
New York law clearly defines “intoxicated” for a charge of DWI — if a person’s blood-alcohol content is .08 or higher for holders of driver’s license or .04 for holders of commercial licenses, the person is guilty of DWI. For DWAI-Drugs, on the other hand, there is no clear definition of what exactly “ability impaired” means. In these cases, prosecutors must introduce sufficient evidence of the driver’s impaired ability, such as dilated eyes, behavior, and smell, to support the charge. This obligation to introduce evidence allows an criminal defense attorney in Buffalo, NY from a New York DWI law firm to challenge the evidence presented and introduce additional proof that the driver’s ability was not impaired.
In addition, when charged with DWAI-Drugs, you can plea bargain to a lesser charge — New York law does not allow plea bargaining in DWI cases. The ability to plea to a lesser charge enables a criminal defense attorney in Buffalo, NY to help you resolve the matter more favorably.
When charged with DWI, your license is suspended until the matter is resolved. When charged with DWAI-Drugs, you usually do not lose your driving privileges during trial, which makes the entire process easier.
- What is a Drug Recognition Expert?
To prove a DWAI, which is driving while ability-impaired by drugs, police agencies must utilize a drug recognition expert. We call that a DRE. That is a police officer who has gone through special training and certification to recognize the symptoms of someone who has ingested or smoked different types of drugs. The DRE will give an opinion as to whether they are impaired by drugs.
- What Should I Do if I Caused an Accident While Drunk Driving?
If you get into an accident while driving while intoxicated either by alcohol or drugs, do not flee the scene. If you flee the scene, additional charges will be added. It’s best to call 911, make sure no one is hurt, cooperate with the police as far as giving them your name, and your address. As always, you do not have to tell them how much you had to drink, you do not have to perform any roadside field sobriety tests, nor do you have to take a breathalyzer test or chemical test back at the station.
- How Can I Get a Hardship License?
A hardship license is different than a conditional or restricted license. A hardship license is only available within three days of your arraignment on your driving while intoxicated charges. A hardship license is granted at the discretion of the court or the judge. It is not a guaranteed right. It is something that a court can decide whether you are given a hardship license. A hardship license will only allow you to drive to and from work for the first 30 days of your case. You may not use your license to run errands, to go to the doctor, or if you were, say, a salesperson, to go to and from different appointment. It only allows you to go from your home to a fixed residence or place of business. The court will take that information down and put it on the hardship license, the address, and the times that you are working. This available for the first 30 days, and after 30 days, if you are eligible, you may apply to the DMV for a more expansive conditional or restricted license.
Please remember, you are not eligible for a hardship license if you have refused to take the breathalyzer test or if you’ve had a prior DWI or driving while impaired conviction within the last five years.
- What is a Restricted or Conditional License?
When you’re convicted of driving while intoxicated or driving while impaired, your license may be suspended or revoked for a period. This means that your full driving privileges are no longer in effect. However, if you are eligible, under most circumstances, you will be able to get a restricted or conditional license. What this means is that if you attend a program called the DDP program that DMV offers, they will issue you a new license that says Restricted on it or a conditional license that allows you to drive to and from work, to and from school, to and from medical appointments, and so many hours a week to conduct personal errands.
Typically, the DMV will ask you to pick a day, and you’ll be able to drive three hours a day on that day to run all your personal errands. This conditional license does not allow you to go to bars, to go to restaurants late at night, to go to friends’ homes, or you’ll be committing a new infraction which may result in the revocation or suspension of your license again.
- What Happens if I Get a DWI and I am from Out of State?
If you are an out of state driver or you’re a Canadian driver, it is important to know about reciprocity. This means that our New York State DMV will report to 45 states; the province of Ontario, and the province of Quebec; any points you may receive on your license while driving in New York State. It is important to defend your charges in New York State with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Buffalo, NY so your home state or home province does not impose additional penalties and sanctions on you for receiving points in New York State.
- Can I Get a DWI Expunged or Removed Off My Record?
In New York State if you get arrested and convicted of a DWI or a lesser charge of driving while impaired, that cannot be sealed or expunged. The reason being is the prosecutors in law enforcement need to look back on your driving record to see if you have any previous convictions. If you do have previous convictions for an alcohol-related offense, your penalties on a future arrest can be enhanced.
- Can I Go to Canada with a DWI on My Record?
If you are convicted of driving while intoxicated by alcohol, driving while impaired by alcohol, or impaired by either alcohol or drugs, the Canadian authorities will exclude you from entering Canada for a minimum of five years. After five years, you may apply for a minister’s permit to get special permission to enter Canada if you satisfy certain conditions. After ten years, you may be admitted to Canada without any restriction.
Criminal Defense For College Students
If you’re a high school or college student, you’re at a point in your life that’s as full of possibility as it is of peril. You’re making the choices that will shape your adult identity. Your daily life is a barrage of exposure to new people, experiences, and ideas, and your relationship with the world is defined by the strongest verbs: worship, idolize, emulate, create, rebel, destroy. Most of it is exciting, much of it is mundane, and very little of it is easy. As you pick up, test, disregard, swap, and forge new convictions and beliefs, you may find yourself in difficult and unintended situations with friends, with family members, with employers – and with the law.
Young people often find themselves on the wrong side of the law, and unprepared to deal with the consequences that could befall them when they face the police and courts. If you’re in this situation, you might have committed an illegal act out of boredom, malice, or peer pressure; you might have found yourself mixed up in a situation that got out of your control; or, in some cases, you might have been innocent and wrongfully arrested and accused. Now, though, you face a criminal charge that could derail your education or your job, put significant stress on your family and other relationships, drain your finances just as you’re trying to start saving, and seriously jeopardize your career aspirations.
Understanding Juvenile Criminal Law In New York State
Reforms in New York State have taken significant steps to shifting the focus of the criminal justice system to the rehabilitation rather than the punishment of juveniles convicted of crimes. The focus now is on measures to change behavior, and to set minors on a path to becoming independent, law-abiding, civic-minded adult members of society. There is decreasing faith in the idea that imprisonment and other harsh penalties contribute toward these goals – and there is mounting evidence that such punitive measures hurt more than they help, pushing children deeper into criminal cultures and antisocial attitudes.
This doesn’t mean that juveniles are exempt from life-changing punishments. If you are under the age of 16 and convicted of a serious crime, a judge might still sentence you to a juvenile detention center for up to nine years – more than half your current age. If yours was a violent crime, a prosecutor might request for you to be tried as an adult.
If you are a juvenile facing criminal charges, the outcome of your case will determine the course of your life. If you are innocent, you will need an excellent criminal defense attorney in Buffalo, NY to dismantle the prosecution’s case and demonstrate “reasonable doubt” about your guilt. If you did commit the crime in question, you will need an criminal defense attorney in Buffalo, NY who can present your case in the best possible light. That criminal defense attorney in Buffalo, NY can advise you as to what steps you should take: voluntarily submitting to drug or behavior rehabilitation and presenting character references or other evidence of your potential to contribute positively to society could go a long way.
Eligibility For Youthful Offender Status
You’ve likely heard warnings from parents, teachers, and guidance counselors about how much your actions today can affect your adult life. Because of the Internet, you’ve grown up with incredible resources no other generation had – but you’re also experiencing challenges and pitfalls that no previous generation has faced. Every post and picture is permanent. Every Internet tidbit that mentions your name – including police and courts posts – will be easy for a college or employer to find.
If you’ve “messed up” as a young adult, it may ruin your career aspirations. If you can transition into adulthood gracefully, build a solid resume and cultivate reliable character references, and interview well, employers may be inclined to forgive an embarrassing Facebook post from your high school years – they’ll understand that if the Internet had been what it is now when they were young, their careers might have been jeopardized, too. Criminal convictions, however, are another story. Almost any employment application will ask outright whether you’ve been convicted of any felony offenses; some will ask about misdemeanors; and others will involve background checks. A criminal conviction at a young age could derail all of your hopes and plans.
However, the New York State Penal Code does contain a potential allowance for youthful indiscretion. If you’re under the age of 19 and charged with a criminal offense, you may be eligible for “youthful offender status.”
This doesn’t mean that you won’t face penalties. A conviction could still mean fines, other restrictions, and even a sentence to a juvenile detention center. However, your conviction wouldn’t leave a criminal record. If you take your crime and conviction as a learning experience, get your life on track, and avoid any further criminal activity, your future success, happiness, and financial security won’t be in jeopardy.
Caught Underage Drinking? Contact A Criminal Defense Attorney In Buffalo, NY
Underage drinking might seem like a rite of passage; it might seem like a fact of life as a teenager in Buffalo; and the laws against it might seem fundamentally unjust and wrongheaded. These things might be true – but that doesn’t change the fact that an arrest and conviction for underage drinking can be damaging to your finances, relationship, education, and career goals.
There is technically no “underage drinking” charge in New York; nor is there an explicit prohibition on purchasing alcohol. If police catch you drinking alcohol, however, you aren’t likely to get away without a charge. Under the New York Alcoholic Beverage Control Law, it is an offense for anyone under the age of 21 to purchase or attempt to purchase an alcoholic beverage through fraudulent means. This is separate from the law against possession of false identification. The New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law makes it a misdemeanor to buy (or sell) a fake or stolen license (and a second offense is a felony), while it is an offense (though not a “criminal” offense”) to “possess or use any forged, fictitious or illegally obtained license, or any license belonging to another person.” On top of this, it’s an offense under the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law for a person under 21 to possess alcohol “with the intent to consume.” This means that if you use a fake ID to purchase alcohol, you could face three separate charges – or more, depending on the context. The only exception to the possession or consumption charges is for alcohol provided by a parent or guardian – but if you’re at a bar or restaurant and you use a fake ID to purchase alcohol with your parent or guardian’s consent and affirmation, you could still face charges for possession of the ID, while your parent or guardian would face charges for misrepresenting your age for the purpose of purchasing and consuming alcohol.
The steepest penalties will be for the misdemeanor crime of purchasing or possessing any form of identification that is fake of fictitious. On top of that, the non-criminal offenses could result in fines of up to $50, community service, and mandatory alcohol awareness programs.
You will need an experienced criminal defense attorney in Buffalo, NY to navigate the nuanced distinctions of New York’s underage alcohol consumption laws.
Under 21 DWI? Contact A Criminal Defense Attorney In Buffalo, NY
New York has a “zero tolerance” alcohol policy for drivers under 21. If you are a driver under 21 and police pull you over, and if you blow a BAC of .01-.07, you will be charged with underage DWI. This would be a DWAI for a driver over 21, carrying fines and the suspension of the convicted person’s driver’s license for six months. For a driver under 21, however, there is no DWAI: the charge is technically “driving after consuming alcohol,” and while the financial penalties will be less severe than for a DWAI, the driver’s license suspension will be for one year. A “driving after consuming alcohol” charge will not go to criminal court – it will be handled within the Department of Motor Vehicles. While a conviction will mean the loss of your license for a year, you may get a conditional license that will allow you to drive to and from work, school, and medical appointments. The charge will not “count” as a DWI on your future record (unlike normal, “adult” DWIs and DWAIs, which cannot be expunged).
Note, however, that even a trace of alcohol in your system will result in a charge.
If you blow a BAC of .08 or more, you will be treated as an adult. If you have a strong suspicion that you will register at .08 or above, you should weigh the option of refusing the breath test. You do have this right, but exercising it will carry consequences, including the automatic suspension of your license for one year (which would run concurrently with your “driving after consuming alcohol” or DWI suspension), and fines from the DMV.
Marijuana Possession. Contact A Criminal Defense Attorney In Buffalo, NY
Possession of up to 25 grams of marijuana in New York State is now a violation – not a crime. There will, however, be a fine if you are convicted (probably $100).
A marijuana charge on your record could be very embarrassing, damaging to your reputation, and concerning to a potential employer. If this is a first offense, a skilled criminal defense attorney in Buffalo, NY might be able to secure an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal (ACD). This means that if you stay out of trouble for a certain period and satisfy other conditions from the court (for example, undergoing a drug evaluation or rehabilitation program), the case will be sealed. As far as public record and employment is concerned, it will be as if your charge and conviction “never happened.”
Be cautioned, though: you may be charged with a B misdemeanor if you possess or consume marijuana in a public place, or if you possess over 25 grams. Possession of more than 2 ounces (about 57 grams) will be an A misdemeanor charge.
Marijuana DWI. Contact A Criminal Defense Attorney In Buffalo, NY
It is illegal in New York State to drive under the influence of any mind-altering substance – not just alcohol. Many young people are surprised to be pulled over, arrested, and charged with a “DWI” for driving after consuming marijuana. You may not feel like this is a crime, but the fact is that it’s extremely dangerous to operate a vehicle after taking marijuana, and if police catch you doing this you will be charged and prosecuted exactly as if you had been driving drunk. There will not be a breathalyzer involved, but the authorities have other ways of measuring marijuana intoxication. The penalties will be the same as for a regular DWI.
Criminal mischief is broad category covering any damage of another person’s property, either with intent or because of reckless or negligent behavior. For young people, criminal mischief charges often come from graffiti, vandalism, damage to cars, damage to homes (like broken windows or smashed mailboxes), or damage to other personal items (like a smashed cellphone, slashed bike tires, or ripped clothes).
The word “mischief” can be misleading: the charge, and the penalties involved, are very serious. If convicted of even the lowest level of criminal mischief (fourth degree), you would be guilty of a class A misdemeanor and subject to fines and up to one year in prison.
Damage to property valued in excess of $250 could be criminal mischief in the third degree, an E felony punishable by up to four years in prison.
Damage to property values in excess of $1,500 could be criminal mischief in the second degree, a D felony, punishable by up to seven years in prison.
If you have damaged another person’s property by means of an explosive device, you are guilty of first degree criminal mischief, a class B violent felony, punishable by up to 25 years in prison.
If you’ve been charged with criminal mischief, you need the counsel of an experienced criminal defense attorney in Buffalo, NY. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you might be able to seek youthful offender status or reduced charges, or have the charges thrown out altogether. Facing the threat of serious prison sentences, there’s far too much at stake to face these charges alone and unprepared.
For many students at large universities, “hazing” seems like a normal and accepted part of the college experience – especially for students who experienced hazing themselves, during the initiation into a fraternity or sorority. In the eyes of the law, however, hazing is a serious offense.
While hazing is not a “crime,” it is violation, and a person charged with hazing could spend 15 days in jail – seriously jeopardizing a career and education, causing embarrassment, and putting stress on that person’s relationships with family and friends. Hazing might result in expulsion from a school, which in turn could threaten a person’s career goals. Furthermore, a skilled prosecutor could push to include additional charges for illegal actions associated with hazing, such as underage consumption of alcohol, criminal mischief, and assault.
Fighting, roughhousing, or horseplay often feel like a natural part of life for young people. But, whether a fight started in “good fun” or because of a heated dispute, any altercation could leave one or more parties facing serious assault charges.
There are three degrees of assault in New York State, distinguished by intent, the extent of the injuries, and whether weapons were involved.
|Assault in the third degree||A misdemeanor||Injury and intent, or negligence||Up to 1 year in jail; fine of up to $1,000|
|Assault in the second degree||D Felony||Serious injury and/or use of a weapon||Up to 7 years in jail; fine of up to $5,000|
|Assault in the first degree||B Violent Felony||Most extreme cases||Up to 20 years in jail; fine of up to $30,000|
You will automatically face a second degree assault charge if you injure a public servant in such a way that you prevent the person from doing his or her job; if you assault a person 65 or older and you are at least 10 years younger; or if you are at least 18 and assault a person 11 or younger.
For either felony assault charge, you may face jail time, and probationary restrictions after your sentence is over. If convicted, your rights, including gun ownership, will be curtailed. You will not be able to vote while in jail or on parole. You may be barred from certain careers.
Your criminal defense attorney in Buffalo, NY can challenge any of these charges by showing that the prosecution cannot prove your intent to cause injury beyond a reasonable doubt, or by disputing the extent or causation of the other party’s injuries. Self-defense or defense of another, if demonstrable, will also clear your name.
A Criminal Defense Attorney In Buffalo, NY With Over 30 Years Of Experience
If you’re a young person facing criminal charges, you need to take swift, decisive action to protect your rights, your finances, and your future.
Arthur Pressman has over 30 years of legal experience, earning a reputation for excellence at a large Miami, FL law firm, as a public defender in Buffalo, NY, and in his own private practice. Thousands of Western New York clients have relied on him to secure reduced or dropped charges and lenient sentences, to escape wrongful convictions or other knotty legal situations, and to get their lives back on track.
Contact the law office of criminal defense attorney in Buffalo, NY today to set up a free and confidential consultation in his downtown Buffalo office. In the meantime, you can continue to educate yourself about criminal defense by browsing the other legal resources on this website. You might start with our blog or videos.
Drug Crime Attorney Buffalo NY
In the United States, crimes are categorized three different ways:
Violations are minor charges, and are rarely used except in juvenile cases or non-moving infractions. Misdemeanors are less serious than felonies but still carry fines and the potential for jail. Felonies are very serious offenses that are usually punished with jail time and fines. There are a lot of different variables between the felony and misdemeanor charges, but basically, it’s penalties. On a felony conviction, you are likely to go to a state prison facility or have a longer term of probation.
People often underestimate the impact of having even a misdemeanor on their record. The reality is that any type of crime can go on your permanent record and can surface in the future and be used in future employment evaluations.
Serious Drug Crimes Are Considered Felonies In New York
In a study completed as part of the 2012 Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring Annual Report, researchers tested for drugs in 1,736 men, in five major cities and within 48 hours of the men’s’ arrests. More than 60 percent of the men tested used at least one illegal drug.
New York has historically been known for some of the toughest drug laws in the United States. Most offenses involving controlled substances are felonies. They carry huge fines and most often are accompanied by long prison sentences.
There is a wide spectrum of drug crimes of which one can be charged with committing. The types of criminal drug cases include:
- Sale of controlled substance — Conviction of selling drugs is an offense that could lead to extensive jail or prison time.
- Drug possession — Possession of 500mg or more is already a Class D felony punishable by one to two and a half years in prison.
- Drug trafficking — Like most states, New York has laws that strictly punish those convicted of producing, distributing, or selling controlled substances.
- Marijuana charges — Marijuana charges vary significantly. Possessing a few joints, cultivating a field and trafficking marijuana are examples of marijuana drug charges.
- Narcotics charges — There are certain drugs that are very dangerous to society. Legislatures have enacted laws that make the possession of these drugs, in even small amounts, a felony offense. Heroin, ecstasy and cocaine are examples of these drugs.
The Variables That Affect Drug Penalties
The penalty sought by the prosecution and the sentence ordered by the court depends on the circumstances of the crime. The following are some of the factors affecting the penalty, per the criminal defense laws in NY State:
- Which illegal substance was involved in the crime?
- How much of the drug was involved?
- Was selling or intent to sell drugs evident?
- Were firearms seized with the narcotics?
- Does the client have any prior convictions and, if so, were any of them for felonies or violent felonies?
- Had the client received drug treatment?
Drug Crime Penalties
The penalties for drug possession vary drastically depending on the type of drug found on your person. They may involve minimum mandatory state prison sentences and substantial fines and penalties.
Unlike states in Colorado or Washington or the District of Columbia, it is still illegal to possess marijuana, especially in quantities over 28 grams. First-time possession doesn’t carry much consequence, a citation and a $100 fine. It is a non-criminal charge in New York State. We have decriminalized certain amounts of marijuana. In most cases I will be able to get you a delayed dismissal. If you possess marijuana in a quantity over 28 grams, you will be charged with either a misdemeanor or a felony.
Cocaine, on the other hand, carries a much stiffer penalty. Even if you are only found to be in possession of a very small amount, penalties can be several months to 15 years in prison and fines can be up to $500,000. Prosecutors and police will look at the type of cocaine and the amount to determine whether it is a misdemeanor or a felony.
Possession with intent to distribute may be determined based on the amount of drugs found on your person. The quantity required to increase the charge from simple possession to possession with intent to distribute varies between the drugs found and their weight. Penalties for this offense are very serious. They range from a misdemeanor to an A felony.
Individuals are usually charged with distribution if they are caught with a larger quantity of drugs than would warrant a possession charge, but not enough to necessitate a drug trafficking charge. The heavier the drug, the steeper the penalty. And for a significant amount, an individual can face years behind bars.
More Information You Should Know About Drug Charge Cases:
- What is an ACD?
For a first offense, an experienced criminal defense attorney in Buffalo, NY is usually able to negotiate an ACD, which is an abbreviation for adjournment and contemplation of dismissal. What this means is, if you stay out of trouble for the next six months, fulfill any condition that the court imposes, then the charges will be dismissed, your record will be sealed and expunged, and this will be like it never happened.
- What is the Difference Between an Adult and a Youthful Offender?
New York State categorizes crimes between adult and youthful offender. There are also cases that are sent to family court based on age as well. If you are above the age of 16, in most cases you will be prosecuted in adult court. However, if you are between the ages of 16 and your 18th birthday, you will be treated as a youthful offender. If you are under 16 years of age, your case will more than likely be referred to family court as a juvenile offender.