Category Archives: Felony Offenses

Sex Offenders Banned from Pokémon Go

While Pokémon Go quickly became an overnight sensation for children and adults alike, not everyone will be playing. Sex offenders registered in the state of New York are prohibited from playing Pokémon Go. New York became the first state to enforce a ban on sex offenders, following growing concerns that the smartphone-based game would lead players, especially children, towards the offenders’ homes.

The order signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo prohibits sex offenders on parole from playing GPS-oriented games. Pokémon Go is, of course, the most recognizable name given its popularity across generations. According to the New York Daily News, the Governor’s order has led New York to prohibit sex offenders not only from playing GPS-oriented games but even from those games being downloaded or even accessed. The order is expected to impact several thousand registered sex offenders in the state of New York.  Governor Cuomo’s focus is on protecting the State’s children. The Governor’s office released a statement justifying the order:

“Protecting New York’s children is priority number one and, as technology evolves, we must ensure these advances don’t become new avenues for dangerous predators to prey on new victims,” Governor Cuomo said. “These actions will provide safeguards for the players of these augmented reality games and help take one more tool away from those seeking to do harm to our children.”

In addition to the Governor’s order, New York’s Department of Criminal Justice Services is expected to work closely with tech giants Apple and Google as well as Niantic, Inc., the software developer behind Pokémon Go. The focus is to “enhance user safety” and limit the accessibility of sensitive information.

Governor Cuomo’s order comes on the heels of a report compiled by New York state Senators Jeffrey D. Klein and Diane Savino. The Senators’ report showed an increased number of children coming into close proximity of sex offenders’ homes while playing the game. In fact, the report also indicated that children could sometimes even find themselves at registered offenders’ homes.

Call 718-575-3900 today for a consultation

Registering as a sex offender in the state of New York is already difficult enough. Now, Governor Cuomo’s new order can impact both your rights and your ability to continue living without further issue. As a registered sex offender, you should strive to become fully aware of how this order and New York’s mental hygiene law may impact your daily life. Stephan Jacob Siegel is presently the only attorney in Queens County specially certified to represent clients charged as persistent sexual offenders pursuant to article 10 of the New York State Mental Hygiene Law.  The Law Office of Stephan Jacob Siegel will work to provide you with a comprehensive understanding of these changes and how they may impact your life. Schedule a consultation today with a New York criminal defense attorney by calling (718) 575-3900 or visit us online for more information.

Understanding Check Fraud

Under New York penal law, the penalties associated with both felony and misdemeanor forgery can result in steep sentencing of years in prison and additional fees. While sentencing can vary greatly be the severity of the crime in which you were charged—from third to first degree—one of the points that they all have in common is that your intent to defraud must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Here’s an example of one interesting case from 2014 that had to deal with fake checks.

People v. Zeller: This case involved a New York woman who created fake checks that included her own name and information, so she was not attempting to present herself as someone else. She then gave them to a third party, and while the intent throughout was decidedly fraud, the checks were not technically falsely made and the courts dismissed charges of Second Degree Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument. Had she been convicted of this charge, she would have been faced with up to seven years in federal prison, separate from the other levied charge of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree.

The Importance of Zeller: This case shines a revealing light on the different types of check fraud that can be applied in cases of Forgery and Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument. It will not be a defense for individuals who are accused of falsifying a signature of someone else on one of their checks, since that was not the case in Zeller’s circumstances. The main importance here was on the maker of the checks, rather than their authenticity or lack thereof.

However, when it comes to instances of “fabricating instruments”, like Zeller making her own checks, it can be a central defense precedent. It is not a get out of jail free card, and there are many other charges that can be levied against this type of crime which are not defensible by the Zeller precedent. Those stipulations considered, it is certainly an interesting and valuable new part of the New York penal code that is worthy of consideration by all defendants.

Your Options: If you are a resident of Queens or the greater New York City Metro area, you can find top notch quality service here with me, Stephan Jacob Siegel, Esq. If you have been charged with forgery for check fraud or using forged instruments, I will use revealing cases like the Zeller case above to craft a solid defense strategy for my clients.

For over thirty years, I have represented by clients with the utmost professionalism and have an excellent success rate and extensive courtroom experience. I handle many areas, including white collar criminal defenses, fraud and embezzlement, internet crimes, health care fraud, insurance fraud, and real estate fraud. For a free consultation about my services, call the office today at 718-575-3900; you’ll be glad that you did.

Felony Severity Explained

New Yorkers pride themselves on being ‘tough on crime’, which can be a double edged sword when it comes to protecting the state and its citizens. Here are some of the facts you need to know about being convicted of a felony in New York, and what it will mean for your future as a resident of the state, depending on the class of felony and its associated stipulations.

Lost Rights- All Classes: There are many rights you would already assume to have that you will lose once being convicted of a felony in New York State, regardless of the class of felony which it is qualified under. This includes the ability to vote, serve on a jury, purchase firearms, receive welfare, live in federally funded housing, and holding some operator licenses.

  • Class A Felony: This is the highest degree and deals with crimes such as murder and treason. In other states, a class A felony will carry the death penalty, though this is not legal in New York and the sentence instead will be a life term, generally without parole.
  • Class B Felony: One step below murder, Class B felony offenses includes homicide, rape, armed robbery, drug trafficking and violent assault. These can be successfully negotiated down or dismissed altogether by a successful lawyer.
  • Class C Felony: This is a lesser felony charge and covers other types of assault, fraud, theft or robbery. There will be fines and up to ten years of incarceration associated, and Class C felonies can be downgraded into a B class with the proper legal representation.
  • Class D Felony: While also serious crimes, Class D felonies do not have the same associations of malice as the higher categories. These include larceny, fraud, theft, and burglary. There are also associated fees and jail times with this class, though respectively lower than the higher classes.
  • Class E Felony: The lowest felony charge, these come from serious crimes including theft, assault, or a DUI that results in harm to a person or building. These felonies carry the penalty of 2-5 years of jail time, but can be successfully negotiated down to a misdemeanor or completely dismissed with the proper representation.

Felony Drug Charges: This is one area of felony law that requires some special attention, and is one of the more serious crimes in New York. Moving drug charges from a misdemeanor to a felony includes the amount of drugs in question, intent to distribute, actual distribution or trafficking activity, or the presence of drugs in a particularly controlled area, especially school grounds. Repeat offenders in drug cases can increase the charges into a felony, and result in very harsh consequences for the convicted individual.

When you are facing a trial or charge for a felony-level offense, be it drug related or otherwise, the law office of Stephan Jacob Siegel is here to see you through the process as smoothly as possible. Contact me today for a free expert consultation by phone at 718-575-3900.

Understanding Arson

If you are being charged with a fiery crime and need to understand what your best defense can be, we’ve gathered some information to help you understand what goes into an arson definition, and what elements are necessary to prove that an individual committed arson. The penalties from this crime vary wildly, so it’s important to know what you’re up against in cases of arson.

Arson Defined:  While arson of course covers crimes committed with fire, it also deals with those malicious damages caused by explosive devices. In either medium, arson is caused when it affects a building, inhabited structure, vessel, vehicle or other property—it is a property crime, although the higher levels of this crime doe deal with the intentional burning of property with the express interest to injure a person.

Crimes against Property: Arson and vandalism are linked in the way that the function as crimes against property very similarly. They destroy or damage property, and arson specifically burns structures or wild areas. To prove arson, the individual must not have committed the crime accidentally. It must have been done with malice, but that does necessarily mean the express intent to cause the burning: any person who acted with intentionally reckless conduct can be sufficiently proven to have had malice and classify the damage and destruction as arson.

Proving Arson: With evidence of both burning and criminal activity, arson can be proved, and the express intent of motive is not essential in proving arson. In New York State, there are five degrees of arson, each with increasingly serious penalties and results of the act. Here’s a quick rundown.

  • Arson in the fifth degree: This is a class A misdemeanor, and applies when a person intentionally damages the property of another person by causing an explosion or fire without that individual’s consent.
  • Arson in the fourth degree: This is a class E felony, and applies when a person recklessly damages a building or motor vehicle, again through the use of fire or explosives.
  • Arson in the third degree: This is a class C felony, and is similar to the 4th degree charge, but the damage to the building or motor vehicle must have been intentional, rather than reckless.
  • Arson in the second degree: This is a class B felony, and involves the intentional fire or explosives damage to a building or motor vehicle, with the knowledge that another person is present in the space, or with the reasonable expectation that a person would be occupying the area at the time of the crime.
  • Arson in the first degree: The most serious of all, first degree arson is a class A-I felony and involves the injury of a person besides themselves, gives the offender a financial gain, was caused by throwing or placing an explosive device in the building, or if the explosion was caused expecting the presence of another person in the damaged or destroyed space.

If you are in need of an expert attorney to handle a case involving arson or one of my many other practice areas, give me, Stephan Siegel, a call today. I can be reached for a free consultation at 718-575-3900 and look forward to serving you soon.