One of the most serious charges in New York state criminal law is Operating as a Major Trafficker, in violation of Penal Law 220.77. That charge makes it a Class A-I felony to traffic in controlled substances worth $75,000.00 or more. This can be accomplished in three different ways:
New York City is one of the best cities in the world to visit and it attracts tourists from all over the world. Unfortunately, a few of them are arrested every day at the New York City airports: LaGuardia and JFK (John F. Kennedy). Most of them receive Desk Appearance Tickets for misdemeanor offenses. These arrests typically involve generally law-abiding citizens accidentally carrying something in their luggage that is illegal in New York, such as a weapon (Penal Law Section 265.01) or a controlled substance (Penal Law Section 220.03). Sometimes, Port Authority Police also make arrests and give Desk Appearance Tickets for offenses at the airport like trespassing (Penal Law 140.10), shoplifting (Penal Law 155.25 or 165.40), public lewdness (Penal Law Section 245.00) or assault (Penal Law Section 120.00). These tickets typically direct the arrest person to appear in court about a month later at the Queens Criminal Courthouse located at 125-01 Queens Boulevard in Kew Gardens, New York.
Although the offenses may seem minor at first, these cases in fact present very real risks to the arrested persons: possible permanent and public criminal records, immigration consequences, prison time, loss of employment, and financial penalties, among others. For out-of-town tourists, they present an additional problem, though: appearing in court personally can be logistically very difficult, especially if the case involves multiple appearances. Traveling across the country (or across an ocean) means potentially missing time from work, school and/or family obligations, not to mention the expense of traveling.
Matthew Galluzzo has perfected a system of client affidavits that often permits him to appear – in certain cases – on behalf of out-of-town or foreign clients. Using these affidavits, he has frequently been able to appear without his clients and resolve cases favorably for those clients. He has helped dozens of New York visitors resolve misdemeanor cases without appearing personally in New York City for their court appearances. Not every case can be resolved this way, but many can.
Crystal Methamphetamine Defense Attorney
Crystal methamphetamine is a frequent target of law enforcement in New York. The simple possession of a small (personal use) quantity is typically prosecuted in state court as a misdemeanor pursuant to NY Penal Law Section 220.03. The possession or trafficking of very large quantities of crystal methamphetamine is oftentimes prosecuted in federal court pursuant to 21 U.S.C. Sections 846 and 841, and can carry significant mandatory minimum penalties depending upon the quantity and the defendant’s criminal record. These federal charges also typically involve presumptive pre-trial detention, meaning that it may be difficult if not impossible to secure a defendant’s release pending trial. Larger-scale trafficking and possession of crystal methamphetamine can also result in New York state Class A-II felony charges for Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Second Degree (Penal Law 220.18) and/or Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the Second Degree (Penal Law 220.41).
Matthew Galluzzo has extensive experience defending individuals accused of possessing or trafficking crystal methamphetamine in New York state and federal courts. His clients have gotten great results in these matters. For example, on several occasions, Mr. Galluzzo has negotiated outright dismissals of serious felony charges in exchange for participation in drug rehabilitation programs. In multiple federal cases involving the trafficking of many kilograms of crystal methamphetamine, he earned his clients sentences far below those called for by the Sentencing Guidelines. In short, his track record with these sorts of matters is second to none.
An F1 visa is a non-immigrant visa granted to people abroad who wish to enter the United States in order to attend academic institutions, training programs, or conservatories. As is the case with any non-citizen, an arrest and conviction for even the most petty offense can trigger serious consequences for an F1 visa holder, including revocation of the visa itself. While the stakes in every criminal case are high, things become even more complicated with F1 visa defendants. To be sure, a criminal attorney needs to be especially diligent when representing any non-citizen facing criminal prosecution for the simple reason that a drastic change in immigration status can potentially accompany any period of incarceration, probation, or even non-jail. As the lawyers at The Law Office of Matthew Galluzzo have always urged, it is of utmost importance for non-citizens who are arrested to secure experienced counsel as early as possible in the case, and especially before any plea bargan is entrered into. Crafting pleas with an eye towards preserving citizenship/visa status is a delicate and nuanced process, which is why F1 Visa holders require experienced counsel to avoid all of the potential pitfalls.
Our lawyers have a great track record of representing F1 visa holders who are arrested in New York for charges including Petit Larceny, Assault, DWI, Theft of Service, Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance, Marijuana possession, Weapons possession and more. One of the advantages F1 visa holders do have is that they often have minimal criminal justice contacts, if any, as well as solid resumes since they have been granted access to attend one of New York’s many fine academic institutions (many of our clients have attended Columbia or New York University, to name a couple). As former prosecutors, we are able to marshall our clients’ strengths and put together an effective and targeted strategy in each case in order to secure the best possible outcome. Our goal is always to leave our clients’ records intact, as well as ensure that they are able to preserve their visas and continue their studies here with minimal distraction. Our lawyers have also secured countless dismissals in such cases, which provides the best outlook for any non-citizen facing criminal prosecution.
If you or a loved one are studying here in the US on an F1 visa and have been arrested and charged with a crime or violation offense, do not hesitate to contact our team of experienced criminal defense lawyers at The Law Office of Matthew Galluzzo as soon as possible so as to avoid any negative consequences.
O-1 visas are granted to individuals who possess extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics (O-1A), as well as those with a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry, and who have been recognized nationally or internationally for those achievements (O-1B). O-2 visas are granted to those who accompany O-1’s for the purpose of assisting them in a specific event or performance. USCIC requires an O-2 play an “integral” role in the assistance of an O-1A’a activity, or provide “essential” assistance to the completion of an O-1B’s production. O-3 visas are granted to spouses or children of O-1 and O-2 holders. All three types of visas are usually granted for a period of up to three years, after which they may be extended in one-year increments, without limitation.
As in the case of any non-citizen, the stakes are higher for O-1, O-2 and O-3 visa holders who are arrested because they face the risk of visa revocation on top of any sentence which is authorized for the crime they’ve been arrested for. For this reason, our lawyers are extraordinarily diligent in their representation of visa holders (as well as non-citizens in general), where a great deal of effort must be placed on crafting dispositions with an eye towards preserving our clients' immigration status. In addition to being accomplished trial litigators, our attorneys are also top-notch negotiators who have secured many dismissals and non-criminal dispositions for our clients. Specifically, the attorneys at The Law Office of Matthew Galluzzo have represented countless visa-holders with an impeccable record of success. For all of these reasons, it is imperative for any non-citizen who has been arrested (even given a Desk Appearance Ticket) to contact us as early in the process as possible. Even those charged with seemingly “minor” misdemeanors need to be diligent, for example, those charged with: Theft of Services (PL 165.15), Petit Larceny (PL 155.25), Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Seventh Degree (PL 220.03), Criminal Mischief (PL 145.00), Unlawful Possession of Marijuana (PL 221.10), Assault in the Third Degree (PL 120.00), and Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Fourth Degree (PL 265.01).
Keep in mind, U.S. visa posts routinely perform criminal background checks on visa applicants, which can lead to devastating consequences for those who don't navigate the system properly, including, but not limited to, initiation of removal proceedings. For a myriad of reasons, it is critical for any O-1, O-2 or O-3 visa holder to contact an experienced attorney who understands the delicate nuances and immigration consequences posed in each of these cases. To be sure, the lawyers at The Law Office of Matthew Galluzzo have successfully represented O-1 visa holder with great success. If you or a loved are faced with a criminal prosecution, contact our attorneys without delay.
New York City owes much of its energy and excellence to the foreign citizens living and working here. Unfortunately, a visa or green card holder’s right to remain in the United States can be seriously jeopardized by a Desk Appearance Ticket, even when the charges are comparatively minor misdemeanors. Many visa holders fail to take these arrests sufficiently seriously because the charges seem minor (like marijuana or subway fare theft) or because the arresting officer tells them “it’s no big deal.” Truthfully, though, career, educational, and family plans can be completely devastated by even a minor case of walking through the subway gate without paying, so it is absolutely critical that a foreign person arrested and issued a Desk Appearance Ticket retain competent counsel immediately.
In many ways, a Desk Appearance Ticket does not feel like such a big deal. The arrested person is usually handcuffed and taken to a police station where they are fingerprinted. They typically wait a few hours in a holding cell until they are given a piece of paper telling them the date and location of their appearance in court. Before Desk Appearance Tickets became routine, criminal defendants could expect to get “sent downtown” and spend the night in jail before seeing a judge. Obviously, Desk Appearance Tickets are preferable for criminal defendants because they spend less time in custody and also have the opportunity to choose counsel for themselves prior to going to court.
Make no mistake, however: the issuance of a Desk Appearance Ticket is in fact an arrest – it is not “just a ticket”. More importantly for visa holders, this event is not going to “fly under the radar” with the immigration agencies. If you were arrested and given a Desk Appearance Ticket, your fingerprints and the arrest charges have been sent to a New York state agency (the Division of Criminal Justice Services) and to the FBI, which maintains a federal nationwide law enforcement database of all arrest events across the United States (the Interstate Identification Index). Visa and green card holders should understand that the immigration agencies, in processing visa renewal requests, access this database to investigate whether the visa applicant has an arrest record. Indeed, some visa holders actually receive emails from Department of Homeland Security (Immigration & Customs Enforcement) agents after their arrests, because the agency was notified of the arrest via the fingerprint database.
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H1B visas (allowing foreign citizens with highly specialized expertise in the areas of math, science and engineering, among others, to live and work in the United States) are highly sought after and not easy to get due to the limit – or “cap” – on the number of such visas granted each year. There are many highly-qualified professionals working in New York thanks to the H1B visa program, and they are welcome additions and assets to the community.
Unfortunately, even a minor arrest can derail an application or renewal for an H1B visa. The attorneys at The Law Office of Matthew Galluzzo have represented many individuals with H1B visas who have received Desk Appearance Tickets for misdemeanor arrests, including, among other things: Theft of Services (PL 165.15), Petit Larceny (PL 155.25), Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Seventh Degree (PL 220.03), Criminal Mischief (PL 145.00), Unlawful Possession of Marijuana (PL 221.10), and Assault in the Third Degree (PL 120.00). Some of these cases are oftentimes resolved with adjournments in contemplation of dismissal (“ACDs”) that would generally be considered to be favorable dispositions. However, ACDs typically involve six month waiting periods before the cases are dismissed, and any people who need to apply for or renew their H1B visas during that six month period are precluded from doing so (and thus unable to remain in the United States at their chosen and hard-earned job). Put plainly, an H1B visa will not be renewed if a criminal case is pending or if the ACD waiting period is still outsanding. This effect has also been noted in the context of other visa applications, such as F1 and J1 visas.
While these are generally not considered the most serious of cases, for visa holders, even these comparatively minor criminal cases can impact your life, career and renewal applications in a number of other ways. For example, convictions for these crimes can result in job loss, permanent criminal records, deportation or inadmissibility, fines, and potentially even jail time. A criminal case should never be taken lightly, but foreign citizens with visas need to be even more mindful of the consequences of an arrest.
Foreign citizens and drug importation charges at JFK, Newark, and LaGuardia Airports (federal controlled substance crimes)
American demand for illegal drugs, combined with harsh federal and state laws prohibiting their sale and possession, has created a black market that can be extraordinarily lucrative for illegal drug traffickers. Enticed by the potential to make significant amounts of money very quickly, many foreign citizens make the mistake of attempting to import controlled substances into the United States through New York City’s international airports (JFK and Newark, and to a lesser extent, LaGuardia). Those individuals caught in the act of importing narcotics typically face federal criminal charges like 21 U.S.C. § 952 (importing controlled substances) or 21 U.S.C. § 841 (possessing controlled substances with intent to distribute). Indeed, one study concluded that approximately 75% of those individuals sentenced for federal drug convictions in 2014 were illegal immigrants or foreign citizens.
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, 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 the Law Office of Matthew Galluzzo 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.
The most typical arrest charges for drugs at nightclubs are Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Seventh Degree, a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail (Penal Law 220.03) (frequently charged as a Desk Appearance Ticket), Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree, a class B felony punishable by multiple years in state prison (Penal Law 220.39), and Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree, a class B felony punishable by multiple years in state prison (Penal Law 220.16) for possessing with the intent to sell. It is noteworthy in the club context that the definition of “sale” in New York state law simply means to give to another person, thus “sharing drugs” with your friend is technically a “sale of drugs” even if your friend did not pay you anything for the drugs. Typical nightclub drugs classified as “controlled substances” include cocaine, ecstasy (MDMA), molly or methylone, heroin, prescription drugs like oxycodone, and methamphetamine or crystal meth, to name a few.