Interviewer: I’m with attorney Carl Spector and today we’re going to be talking about criminal defense cases.
Carl Spector: We’re going to talk about cases first in New York, some recently resolved that I’ve handled and then we’ll go on to some of the recent resolves I’ve had in New Jersey.
I recently had a New York case in Bronx County dismissed. My client was originally charged with administrative code violation and that code violation was 10-133, which is possession of a knife over 4 inches.
The statute is very specific and it says it shall be unlawful for any person to carry on his or her person or have in such person’s possession in any public place, street or park any knife which has a blade length of 4 inches or more.
By Researching the Statute, Your Attorney Can Find Possible Defenses, Including a Lack of Sufficient Evidence to Warrant the Issuing of the Violation
I just appeared on that case in a court yesterday in Bronx County New York. I had done some research on the statute, which was the law that I just cited. I went in front of the judge with the client.
Through my argument and through the facts of this case the judge did agree that the summons was not sufficient on its face and therefore dismissed all charges against my client. We were quite satisfied with that result because it led to his case being dismissed and sealed and no record of anything charges on his record.
The City of New York Has a High Incidence Rate of Issuing Administrative Code Violations
It’s pretty common in the city of New York that people are charged with a variety of administrative code violations, anything from urinating in public to possession of a knife over 4 inches. Even some, I’ve represented some people recently with possession or 1 case recently, possession of brass knuckles. We’re very satisfied with that particular result.
Most Commonly, Violations Originate When an Individual Is Questioned by the Police
Interviewer: In that particular case, how would someone get caught in that situation? Are they stopped by a police officer or are they involved in some altercation?
Carl Spector: That’s a good question. I don’t think there’s necessarily a typical scenario. I would say there are a variety of different scenarios. Very often somebody is asked some questions; for example, when a police officer approaches them and asks them questions.
The Legality of Police Questions Leading to a Search and Seizure Is an Issue Researched by the Attorney
This will lead to the police officer stating that there might be some suspicious activity going on and lead to either an order to have a person empty their pocket, whether that’d be lawful or not or having the police officer search them either legally or illegally. That could also bring up a variety of additional issues.
In the case that I just spoke about, I thought that if that case wasn’t dismissed, I would file a motion to suppress. This is because I felt that this might have been actually an unlawful search of my client. He was in a building holding a bag and there was a knife inside of the bag. The officer asked to look inside the bag and my client complied with that request.
There could have clearly been a hearing that would be held in front of the judge to determine the legality of that stop and search, but due to the fact that the case was dismissed completely there was no need for a motion.
In Some Cases, Either the Search or the Seizure May Be Unlawful
There’s other ways though that you brought up that certainly are feasible. Sometimes if people are involved in an altercation, whether with that knife or not, they might be either lawfully searched or unlawfully searched. This might lead to the police uncovering a weapon or uncovering even contraband of any sort, even drugs. That might lead to an argument of suppression as well in the future.
When Challenging Search and Seizures, the Judge Will Ultimately Decide on Whether or Not Evidence Was Lawfully Obtained
Interviewer: If a police officer conducts an illegal search or an unlawful search and they find a knife, could that still be used against someone in court?
Carl Spector: The way to look at it is any case in which the police recover any evidence that maybe used against somebody is subject to a hearing to suppress that evidence in front of a judge, and having the judge decide upon the legality of allowing that evidence into a trial.
Before Bringing an Illegal Search and Seizure before a Judge, the Defense Attorney and Prosecutor Will Negotiate to Dismiss or for a Favorable Plea Negotiation
For instance, the recovery of a knife would be a subject to a pretrial hearing to suppress that evidence so that it couldn’t be used at a trial against an individual. It’s not for the lawyer to say or for the prosecutor to say whether it’s an illegal search. However, those areas can be explored between attorneys as leverage in order to get a good plea or to get the case dismissed if the case warrants it.
Eventually if there’s no agreement between the prosecutor and the defense attorney and the client with regard to a plea bargain, a hearing can be held in front of a judge to determine whether or not that evidence could be used against that person or whether it should suppressed and excluded from any trial.