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Arrests at Nightclubs and Bars in New York City, Part 1 (Assault)

One of the great things about living in (and visiting) New York City is the amazing nightlife. The city is home to some of the best nightclubs and bars in the world, including places in the Meatpacking District like Tenjune, 1Oak, The Griffin, Gaslight, Beaumarchais, the Standard (The Top of the Standard and Le Bain), as well as other clubs throughout Manhattan, such as Lavo, Santos Party House, Provocateur, Output, the Jane Hotel, Mehanata, Verboten, Cielo, Webster Hall, the Pyramid Club, the 40/40 Club, and the Marquee, among countless others. Unfortunately, arrests for theft, assault, sexual assault, weapons, and drugs are common at these sorts of establishments, and some unfortunate people are saddled with more than just a hangover after a night partying at these places.

The attorneys at Galluzzo & Arnone LLP have represented dozens of people arrested at nightclubs and bars throughout the city, and our experience as prosecutors and defense attorneys has taught us that certain types of cases are quite common. Through our experience on both sides we have also learned that these types of cases present unique challenges and opportunities for defense attorneys, and have learned how to best take advantage of the unique circumstances that these cases often present.

First, assaults in nightclubs and bars are very common. Alcohol and drug use combined with loud music and packed crowds seems to cause some individuals to act violently, unfortunately. Assault in the Third Degree (Penal Law Section 120.00), a class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail, is the most common arrest charge for punching or striking another person, but Assault in the Second Degree (Penal Law Section 120.05), a class D violent felony punishable by multiple years in jail, is also typical in cases in which bottles or other objects are used during the assault.

Sometimes, hazy surveillance footage is available in these assault cases. An experienced criminal defense attorney will move quickly to obtain copies of this footage with a subpoena or a private investigator. Also, although there are frequently numerous witnesses in these cases, their memories are often cloudy or impaired by alcohol. We find that police officers tend to do a poor job of getting interviewing eyewitnesses in these cases, as they are usually more concerned with stopping the fights or arresting the perpetrators than actually speaking to witnesses, who frequently disappear anyway when the police arrive. In addition, we find that police officers typically decide which combatant to arrest by assessing the injuries – the man left standing gets arrested and the man with the most injuries becomes the “victim,” regardless of who is actually to blame for starting the fight. Finally, nightclub bouncers are frequently the real perpetrators of these assault crimes, but rarely if ever get arrested as they are usually sober and for whatever reason considered more credible by police officers (this is especially so because the bouncers usually talk to the same night shift police officers every weekend and thereby earn their trust).

Previously, we have represented professional athletes accused of assaulting police officers after a night in a Meatpacking District (and giving one of them a concussion), but were able to get all criminal charges (including felony charges) dismissed under a self-defense theory. We also had all criminal charges dismissed against a client accused of stabbing a bouncer, again under a theory of self-defense. We have been successful in getting dismissals of criminal charges in several other nightclub assaults as well, by obtaining exculpatory video footage and undermining the credibilities of the complaining witnesses. We have even been successful in obtaining a civil judgment against a nightclub on behalf of a client that was arrested for allegedly assaulting bouncers; the criminal charges against our client were dismissed and then the nightclub favorably settled our client’s lawsuit (brought by us) against the club’s bouncers.

If you or a loved one have been arrested or issued a Desk Appearance Ticket in connection with an alleged assault that occurred at a nightclub or bar in New York City, you should strongly consider contacting the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Galluzzo & Arnone LLP. Their three attorneys were all former Manhattan prosecutors that used to investigate and prosecute crimes like these, and they have had considerable success getting assault charges dismissed for clients in cases originating in nightclubs and bars.