Articles Posted in Summonses

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Many frustrated bar and restaurant owners in New York City have been cited for violating section 65 of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law ("ABC Law") on account of a sale to a minor. Oftentimes, the City will send in junior "explorers" or other underage people to purposefully purchase alcohol in a restaurant or bar in an attempt to drum up violations, which they can then monetize through summonses and State Liquor Authority ("SLA") enforcement.

If you receive a summons for underage sale a summons for sale to a minor, you will probably be sent initially to the courthouse at 346 Broadway, where all summonses in New York and Kings Counties are dealt with.

Violations of ABC Law § 65 are misdemeanors, as no particular penalty is spelled out elsewhere in the chapter. See ABC Law § 130(5). Thus, if a violation occurs, the violator – whether it be a corporation or an individual – would be facing a permanent criminal record. The corporate consequences of a criminal conviction cannot all be discussed here, but suffice it to say, it is not a good thing for any type of business association (or individual for that matter) to maintain a criminal record.

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sir_edward_cokeThe great British jurist Sir Edward Coke has been quoted as stating regarding corporations that, “It is a fiction, a shade, a nonentity, but a reality for legal purposes. A corporation aggregate is only in abstracto–it is invisible, immortal, and rests only in intendment and consideration of the law.”

Perhaps because of the view that corporations solely exist by virtue of the law — as opposed to actual living, breathing people — the New York Legislature has decided that a corporation must be represented by an attorney in criminal matters, including corporate summonses when required to appear in New York courts. Thus, pursuant to Criminal Procedure Law section 600.20:

S 600.20 Corporate defendants; prosecution thereof. At all stages of a criminal action, from the commencement thereof through sentence, a corporate defendant must appear by counsel. Upon failure of appearance at the time such defendant is required to enter a plea to the accusatory instrument, the court may enter a plea of guilty and impose sentence. . . .

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Arrested for Possessing a Small Amount of Marijuana

While the issuance of criminal court desk appearance tickets may have gone down in light of a re-energized debate as to the wisdom of continued illegality of marijuana, the number of NYC marijuana summonses or pink summonses issued appears to have increased. This occurrence probably has as much to do with the relaxed views on the harmful effects of marijuana as it does with the protestations of the defense bar and others that misdemeanor marijuana arrests were often times predicated on illegal or questionable practice of ordering an arrestee to empty his or her pockets only to be told that upon compliance the marijuana was now “open to public view” thus elevating the charge from a violation to a misdemeanor. Whatever the cause, people who have received a marijuana summons in New York City need to know that they have the right to pursue a result which keeps their criminal records not only conviction-, but also arrest-free. The full text of the statute regarding marijuana violations is below:

§ 221.05 Unlawful possession of marihuana. A person is guilty of unlawful possession of marihuana when he knowingly and unlawfully possesses marihuana. Unlawful possession of marihuana is a violation punishable only by a fine of not more than one hundred dollars. However, where the defendant has previously been convicted of an offense defined in this article or article 220 of this chapter, committed within the three years immediately preceding such violation, it shall be punishable (a) only by a fine of not more than two hundred dollars, if the defendant was previously convicted of one such offense committed during such period, and (b) by a fine of not more than two hundred fifty dollars or a term of imprisonment not in excess of fifteen days or both, if the defendant was previously convicted of two such offenses committed during such period.

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We have discussed the forgery laws in New Yorkin general. This post will cover the a common type of arrest in New York City: underage people being caught with a fake ID or New York State Driver’s license. Many young people in the greater New York City area carry a fake ID in order to get into bars before they are 21. While this seems to be a fairly innocuous reason to carry a fake ID, the law in New York can be quite unexpectedly severe. Consider the base forgery statute, which criminalizes the possession of any “forged instrument,” which is defined as a “written instrument which has been falsely made, completed or altered.”

PL 170.00(7). Criminal possession of a forged instrument in the third degree: “A person is guilty of criminal possession of a forged instrument in the third degree when, with knowledge that it is forged and with intent to defraud, deceive or injure another, he utters or possesses a forged instrument. Criminal possession of a forged instrument in the third degree is a class A misdemeanor.” PL 170.20.

These provisions work to actually criminalize the possession of a fake or forged driver’s license. However, prosecutorial experience teaches us that that in certain situations, having something like this can actually lead to felony charges. This is because the next level up in the statutory scheme reads as follows:

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The New York Times has reported that a Brooklyn judge has decided to elevate the standard for legal sufficiency of the accusatory instruments in summons matters involving open containers of alcohol. Up until now, summons judges had usually upheld a summons which simply stated something to the effect that, “at t/p/o (meaning the time and place of occurrence) defendant possessed a 12 oz beer in a plastic cup with the intent to consume it.” This judicial practice was somewhat puzzling because under normal circumstances, complaints or summons matters had to also state the basis of knowledge that the officer had to conclude that the item was, in fact what they allege it was. For example, in marijuana cases, the officer usually will say that he or she knew that the substance he possessed was in fact marijuana because of his training and experience in the identification of that substance. The Brooklyn judge, Noach Dear, held that officer must now prove the beverage to contain alcohol by conducting a laboratory test — a highly impractical feat to accomplish for most police officers on the beat. This decision — while not binding on other judges — may change the approach law enforcement takes to issuing open container summonses directing individuals to appear at 346 Broadway. In fact, the entire summons court system at 346 Broadway was subsequently skewered in another New York Times article, which characterized the practices there as being “warped.”

Regardless of whether this decision results in fewer summonses or changes practices in summons court, if you are issued a summons to appear at 346 Broadway (from either Manhattan or Brooklyn) you should contact an experienced summons court attorney in order to gain valuable advice and representation in your case. There are many ways to avoid any charges in that courtroom that you should discuss before going forward.

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Never mind drug-dealing and violence – it appears the NYPD is cracking down on people who remain in New York City’s parks after closing time, despite the fact that signs which indicate closing times are often small and go unseen. As a result, we have seen an increase in the number of law-abiding citizens (including professionals and students) summoned to court to answer criminal – yes, criminal – charges for remaining in parks after closing time (Central Park and Prospect Park both close at 1 a.m.). While the lights in Central Park, for example, may remain on after closing and no gates or fences close to alert park-goers they need to leave, one can see how easy it may be for an unsuspecting New Yorker or tourist to find him/herself relaxing in a park after closing time, only to be stopped by a police officer and charged under section 1-03 of the New York City Park Rules and Regulations.

In some cased the police will watch someone walk into the park after closing time without warning them, and then immediately stop them and issue a summons (again, no fences close – you’d think the police would warn you). If you are issued such a ticket, you are probably charged under Park Rules and Regulations § 1-03, which is a misdemeanor. Believe it or not, if you are convicted of being in a park after closing time you will be left with a permanent criminal record. The lesson here is to take the summons seriously; as is the case with any summons, failing to return on the summons date will result in a warrant being issued for your arrest. If you or anyone you know has been issued a summons or a desk appearance ticket for this, contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer at Galluzzo and Johnson LLP to represent you.

§1-03 General Provisions

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Now that the warm weather is here, most native New Yorkers and tourists can enjoy the sunny weather by going to any one of our gorgeous parks to take in all of the historic sights and sounds the city has to offer.

Well, maybe not the sounds so much these days…You may have noticed green and white signs which are being placed in public areas by the Department of Parks and Recreations or the Central Park Conservancy, most notably in the Park’s Strawberry Fields, Bethesda Fountains and the Boathouse. The signs, which have been placed in areas where talented musicians play soothing music which enriches the city’s cultural value and history, designate the areas they are posted in as “Quiet Zones” and prohibit musical instrument playing in addition to playing music through amplifying devices. So, no radios or speaker systems to disturb the peace…but what about the gentle classical music you may have been accustomed to hearing when strolling through the park? You won’t hear it anymore, if the city can help it…So far this year cellists, saxophonists, violinists, guitarists, and flutists playing without any electric amplification have been issued summons by the Parks Department charging them with making unreasonable noise, and asked to cease playing music at all in these areas.

While the New York Civil Liberties Union has gotten involved in the matter to address the First Amendment issues associated with the city’s prohibition of music playing in our city, the fact of that matter remains that musicians are being summoned to criminal courts to answer to judges for their actions and pay fines. Presumably they are being charged under Parks and Recreations Regulations § 1-05, section (a) which deals with:

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Last week, New York City banned smoking in all city parks. Legally speaking, they accomplished this by amending the New York City administrative code section 17-503, entitled Prohibition of smoking. This section, by the way, is the same one that bans smoking in bars, the subway, retail stores, and several other indoor and outdoor locations.

The relevant parts of the smoking ban section read as folows:

c. Smoking is prohibited in all indoor and outdoor areas of the following public places at all times:

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The next time you are thinking about riding your bicycle on the sidewalk – think twice (or at least make sure there aren't any police officers around)! Indeed, you might be surprised to learn that it is illegal in New York City to ride your bicycle on the sidewalk, but it is. Specifically, it is a violation of the New York City Administrative Code (Section 19-176). The charge is normally a non-criminal violation punishable by up to a $100 civil penalty, and the violator would typically receive a summons. However, it can also be a misdemeanor punishable by up to 20 days in jail where the police officer alleges that the conduct was so reckless as to endanger the property or lives of other people on the sidewalk. In these latter more serious cases, it is not unheard of for a violator to get a Desk Appearance Ticket (DAT) or be outright arrested. Notably, a misdemeanor conviction can give someone a criminal record, whereas a violation cannot.

There are other potential penalties as well: repeat offenders are subject to double-fines and violators of the misdemeanor version of this offense can have their bicycles impounded. Fortunately, there are a variety of defenses to these charges as well. Certainly, in the misdemeanor cases, it can be very helpful to retain the services of a defense attorney to present those defenses.

If you or a loved one have been issued a summons or arrested for a violation of this provision, you should consider contacting the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Galluzzo & Arnone LLP. Our attorneys include former several Manhattan Assistant District Attorneys and avid cyclists.

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Under normal circumstances, a person who receives a pink summons or a Desk Appearance Ticket (“D.A.T.”) in Manhattan is directed to appear at either 346 Broadway (for summonses) or 100 Centre Street (in the case of a D.A.T.). In 1993, a special court was arranged to sit in Midtown to hear matters where the summoned person was issued the summons or D.A.T. within the confines of the nearby New York City Police Department Police Precinct. This courthouse, located at 314 West 54th Street, is called the “Midtown Community Court,” and presents a somewhat different experience to those persons expected to appear there.

As noted on the Court’s website itself,

“Launched in 1993, the Midtown Community Court targets quality-of-life offenses, such as prostitution, illegal vending, graffiti, shoplifting, farebeating and vandalism. Typically in these cases, judges are forced to choose between a few days of jail time and nothing at all-sentences that fail to impress the victim, the community and the defendants that these offenses are taken seriously. In contrast, the Midtown Community Court sentences low-level offenders to pay back the neighborhood through community service, while at the same time offering them help with problems that often underlie criminal behavior. The Court works in partnership with local residents, businesses and social service agencies in order to organize community service projects and provide on-site social services, including drug treatment, mental health counseling, and job training.”

This can mean that if you have received a summons or a desk appearance ticket and are directed to appear at the Midtown Court, you may be required to fulfill certain programs, i.e. drug treatment programs, in addition to whatever other consequences of the disposition that you reach. Thus, in many cases, you will be treated differently than if you were arrested anywhere else in Manhattan and directed appear downtown, at 100 Centre Street, to face your charges.

If you have received a summons or desk appearance ticket at Midtown Community Court or in any other court in the greater New York City area, you should contact attorneys who have experience in Midtown Community Court as well as the more traditional criminal courts.

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