As a NYC criminal defense attorney, I frequently am tasked with representing individuals who are accused of possessing something that is illegal. Whether the contraband in question is an unlicensed firearm or a controlled substance or narcotic, the penalties for being convicted of possessing the contraband can be stiff (decades in prison). But exactly how does a prosecutor prove that a person possessed the contraband? This sounds like a common sense issue. However, there are a lot of things that come up in “possession cases” that can easily lead to false conviction.
This is the third part of a multi-part blog post about how the Grand Jury in New York works and whether a defendant should testify in it. As mentioned before, this blogpost is written for laypeople to understand and deliberately avoids legalese or other jargon. It also is not legal advice. The decision to testify in the Grand Jury is an important one and you should not substitute this post for the advice of an actual lawyer. If you want legal advice, hire a lawyer. Part One described what the Grand Jury does and how it differs from a petit jury (also known as a trial jury). Part Two focused on the actual differences between the two kinds of juries and dealt with why the decision to testify at the Grand Jury involves a different kind of analysis than the decision to testify at trial. This final part is intended to tie everything to together.
This is the second part of a multi-part blog post about how the Grand Jury in New York works and whether a defendant should testify in the Grand Jury. This is written for laypeople to understand and deliberately avoids legalese jargon to make it easier to comprehend. It also is not intended to serve as legal advice. The decision to testify in the Grand Jury is an important one and you should not substitute this post for the advice of an actual lawyer. If you want legal advice, hire a lawyer. With that said, Part One briefly described what the Grand Jury does and how it differs from a petit jury (also known as a trial jury). Part Two will focus on the actual logistical differences between the two kinds of juries and will address why the decision to testify at the Grand Jury involves a different kind of analysis than the decision to testify at trial.
As a NYC criminal defense attorney, I get the question of whether a criminal defendant should testify in the Grand Jury a lot. I would venture to guess that the discussions related to this topic cause a greater amount of friction between an attorney and his or her client than any other issue. Defendants usually want to testify and their lawyers usually don’t want them anywhere near the Grand Jury. Why is that? The next few blogposts are intended to answer the question and try and elucidate the (usually sound) reasoning behind NOT testifying in the Grand Jury. Before ultimately answering the question of whether one should testify though, Part One of this topic is designed to explain what the Grand Jury is and what it does. As always, this blog is written by a criminal lawyer for a layperson to understand the basics of the Grand Jury system in New York and is NOT legal advice. Everything you read here is likely to have exceptions so please do not read any of this as Gospel and DO NOT rely on it if you have a criminal case or are in need a of a lawyer. If you want legal advice, hire a lawyer.
In my previous blogpost, I briefly discussed the law regarding the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (“FISA” for short) and how the law authorizes certain “wiretaps” to be implemented when there is suspicious activity that could be foreign espionage or terrorism. Today, I write to briefly discuss Title III warrants, which encapsulate the other context where the government seeks permission to listen in on phone calls or to read emails, etc.
Title III Warrants is the colloquial name for warrants that prosecutors seek to investigate criminal activity and to build a case against future defendants in a criminal trial. So if you believe the mafia or narcotics traffickers are using the phone to conduct their illegal activity and you want to listen in and record the conversations between these people, the kind of warrant you want is a Title III warrant. These eavesdropping warrants are far more common than the FISA ones and are frequently done on the local level (whereas FISA is only on the federal level).
As a New York criminal defense attorney and former Manhattan prosecutor, I have had many a dealing with different kinds of warrants. A warrant is generally permission by a judge to invade a person’s ordinarily protected constitutional rights. Different kinds of warrants affect different rights. For example, a search warrant is a warrant to search someone’s home, car, etc; while an arrest warrant is a warrant to arrest someone. The topic of this blogpost focuses on eavesdropping wiretaps and how they work within the FISA Courts.
This is the third part of a multipart blog post written by a New York City criminal defense attorney that centers around issues concerning Miranda warnings and the suppression of statements. Part One focused on when the police were legally obligated to read a suspect his Miranda warnings. Part Two focused on what is considered an “interrogation.” This part focuses on the ramifications of requesting a lawyer and when the the right to a lawyer “attaches.”
This is the second part of a multipart blog post written by a New York criminal defense attorney centering around issues concerning Miranda rights and what the remedy is when they are violated. Part One had to do with when a person is considered to be in police custody. This part centers around when police conduct constitutes an interrogation.
“You have the right to remain silent and to refuse to answer questions; anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law; you have the right to an attorney; if you can afford an attorney, one will be provided to you free of cost.” Everybody has heard cops on TV say these words whenever they place a person in handcuffs. A common point that prospective clients make when they first meet me though is that the police never read them these rights. Thanks to TV, movies, and other forms of pop culture, just about everyone knows what the Miranda rights are. Despite this truth, however, I am not so sure most people actually understand what they actually are, when police officers are required to give them, and what happens if the police fail to adequately advise someone of their rights when they are arrested. This is a multi-part blog post dedicated to clearing up these issues.
This is the fourth part of a multipart blog post about search and seizure law. I previously discussed legal issues surrounding street encounters with the police under the federal and New York constitutions and circumstances surrounding searches of a car. Here, I intend to discuss searches of a person’s actual home.