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Burglary Law in New York

For many people the word “burglar” is synonymous with thief. They recall memories of the Hamburglar sneaking behind trees and fences to take hamburgers. Burglary does not necessarily involve stealing and in-fact many times even if the Hamburglar was able to take the hamburgers, he would not have been convicted of burglary.

Burglary is defined by Article 140 of the New York State Penal Law as a trespass on property with the intent to commit a crime.  There are three degrees of burglary differentiated by the nature of aggravating factors but each degree contains the following two elements:

  1. Trespass and
  2. Specific intent to commit a crime within a building

A trespass is the unlawful entry or remaining on another person’s property longer than permitted by the owner or entering other areas of the property without the owner’s permission.  The vital element to burglary is entering someone’s property—not necessarily taking their things. However, what separates burglary from trespass is the requirement of the specific intent to commit a crime that may include, but is no way limited to, theft.

Specific intent means the burglar must have the desire to actually commit a crime. That desire occurs contemporaneously with the trespass. If a burglar enters a property without planning to commit a crime, but later decides to commit a crime, then either a lawful entry or a simple trespass can become a burglary at that moment. Similarly, if the person entered with the intent to commit a crime, but was unsuccessful in their execution of the crime, they still are guilty of having committed a burglary. Finally, if a person trespasses and simultaneously, but unknowingly, commits a crime, they have not committed burglary as there was no intent.

Third-Degree Burglary is the lowest level of burglary and only requires the two foregoing elements. The charge of burglary can be escalated to second-or first-degree burglary as a function various aggravating factors.

A burglary becomes a Burglary in the Second Degree when there is an added element to the building or dwelling, or while entering the building or in immediate flight from the building:  the defendant is armed with explosives or deadly weapons; or the defendant causes physical injury to a non-participant, or the  defendant displays what appears to be a firearm.

A burglary rises to the first degree when either the building is a dwelling, and while entering the building or in immediate flight from the building the defendant is either armed with explosives or deadly weapons or the defendant causes physical injury to a non-participant, or the defendant displays what appears to be a firearm.

Call a New York Criminal Attorney Today for a Free Consultation.

Being convicted of burglary, regardless of the degree, is considered a felony in New York with penalties of up to 30 years in prison or a fine equal to the greater of $5,000.00 or double the amount of the burglar’s gain from the burglary. A New York criminal attorney can properly evaluate your case and identify any possible defenses. Please call the Law Office of Stephan Jacob Siegel at 718-575-3900 for more information today.  Stephan Jacob Siegel has tried more many burglary trials among the thousands of cases he has tried and will do everything possible to get you the best possible outcome.

Suspicious of Insurance Fraud?

Whether you are driving a vehicle on public roads or operating a business, insurance is often a requirement. Insurance can also be voluntary and provide a peace of mind to people on something as minor as booking travel arrangements. Insurance gives people peace of mind to know that in unforeseen events costs will be covered by a third party and not put you in a financial bind. Unfortunately, some people see insurance as easy money.

Insurance fraud happens when people try to take funds from insurance companies that they are not entitled to receive. Insurance fraud has a significant impact on its victims as well as all consumers of insurance. The impact of insurance fraud drives up insurance prices and consequently raises prices for goods and services. It is important to be able to recognize insurance fraud and some examples include:

  • A driver and a body shop worker agree to inflate the auto damage claim and either share the “profit” or have the deductible waived.
  • A homeowner falsely claims that their home was burglarized and that valuable items were stolen.
  • A doctor bills an insurer for services that were not provided.
  • A driver stages a fake accident, and unscrupulous doctors and lawyers help “handle” associated medical claims and lawsuits.
  • A worker collects worker’s compensation benefits while employed.

Even though you are not directly footing the bill, if you see one that is abnormally high or if you feel like people are inflating the facts of their story, you may be witnessing insurance fraud. While it may not seem to affect you directly, it is important to realize that when insurance companies pay out higher amounts, they must recoup that money through higher premium rates. Higher premium rates mean that people who are required to have insurance will automatically experience great costs to operate their business. With greater costs of operations comes the greater cost of goods.

Insurance Fraud, regardless of the degree, rarely is a stand-alone crime. For example, a person seeking to obtain money and who fills out paperwork fraudulently may face Grand Larceny charges and allegations of the falsification of certain records. If you have been accused of insurance fraud, you need a skilled white collar crime defense attorney on your side as soon as possible, as the consequences of a conviction may be serious.

Call a New York Insurance Attorney For a Free Consultation Today.

If you are under investigation or have been arrested on suspicion of insurance fraud, you should call a New York defense attorney for help. Please contact the Law Office of Stephan Jacob Siegel at 718-575-3900 for a consultation today.

Understanding Fraudulent Activity

When one thinks of fraud, they think of con-artists making deliberate efforts to cheat innocent people. They think of criminals or at the very least a used car salesmen. Fraud is not always so intentional, though, and can even happen by accident in certain circumstances. Bankruptcy, or other dealings between a creditor and a debtor, often trigger accidental fraud that can implicate an otherwise good person.

If a person or business is facing large amounts of debt that exceed the reasonable value of their assets, he/she is considered insolvent. When a person becomes insolvent, it is natural to try to protect the assets that are currently in their possession–especially ones that are held debt-free or were paid for and owned prior to any downturn that lead to the financial struggles. One must be very careful when dealing with assets in order to avoid fraudulent transfers.

Of the following three ways to handle assets when one becomes insolvent, the first two are considered fraudulent:

  1. Transfer the assets with fraudulent intent.
  2. A sale for less than what is considered to be the asset’s fair market value.
  3. A sale for fair consideration in an arm’s length transaction.

The first, and most obvious, way to commit fraud when handling assets is to transfer assets to a new business or to a third party with the intent to hinder, delay, or defraud present or future creditors. This is actual fraud and requires a look at the intention of the debtor. If the transfer is made while the debtor is insolvent or it directly causes the debtor to become insolvent, then the debtor has committed a fraudulent transfer. Likewise, if the debtor is left with unreasonably small capital or intended to incur debts beyond the debtor’s ability to pay them, the intent to defraud creditors is found.

The next type of fraud is not as obvious as actual fraud and is known as constructive fraud. Constructive fraud does not require any intent on behalf of the debtor and automatically results when an insolvent debtor sells or transfers property for an amount less than fair consideration. Fair consideration is an exchange of property or money given for the debtor’s assets that is done in good faith and for property with a fair equivalent value.  When a transfer or sale is made that is inappropriately less than fair market value the Court will consider the transfer fraudulent.

Selling and transferring assets is the most common way to try to shield assets from debtors, but the principles of actual and constructive fraud apply in the following circumstances as well:

  1. Backdating mortgages
  2. Rescinding a profitable contracts
  3. Releasing interest in an estate
  4. Canceling valuable long-term leases
  5. Favoring one creditor over another
  6. Redeeming worthless stock
  7. Making excessive charitable contributions

Call a New York Fraud Defense Attorney Today for a Free Consultation.

If you are wrongfully accused of fraud or would like legal advice to avoid fraud, please do not hesitate to call the Law Office of Stephan Jacob Siegel. We have helped many individuals accused of fraud and other offenses, so please call 718-575-3900 for more information today.

“Textalyzer” may be Coming to New York

Texting and driving is a serious public health issue. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicates there were 431,000 people injured in accidents involving distracted drivers during 2014, and smartphones and text messaging undoubtedly played a role in a significant number of these incidents. Because of the significant dangers posed by texting and driving, most states (including New York) have passed laws limiting or even prohibiting the use of handheld devices when driving.

Enforcing these laws has been difficult, as law enforcement must literally catch a driver “in the act” to issue a citation. If proposed legislation passes, however, New York police may soon have a new tool in their arsenal to catch texting drivers who have been involved in accidents. Under the proposed law, police would be able to use a device known as a “textalyzer” in order to determine whether a driver was texting at the time of or immediately before the accident.

Named for the ubiquitous breathalyzer device that measures the alcohol in a person’s breath to determine their blood alcohol concentration, the textalyzer would scan a person’s phone to determine whether it had been in use at a particular time. Privacy advocates have raised concerns regarding the device’s ability to access personal data, but the bill’s co-sponsor says that the device would only be able to tell if a driver was texting and not gain access to any private information.

Traffic Offenses can Have Serious Consequences

It is important for people to keep in mind that traffic violations like texting and driving, failure to yield, and speeding can easily escalate in very serious legal issues. If you fail to pay a fine or you miss a court date, you may have a warrant issued for your arrest and be facing much more serious criminal penalties. As a result, it is always advisable to have an attorney handle your traffic violation case.

Call a New York Criminal Defense Attorney Today to Learn More

While texting and driving may seem like a minor offense, in certain cases it could result in the suspension of your driver’s license and other criminal penalties. In addition, if you are involved in an accident, a conviction for texting and driving could be used as evidence of negligence in a civil suit against you.  And if those arguments do not convince you to not text and drive, also please understand that if you have any weapons, drugs or other contraband in your vehicle when you are stopped, the stop for texting can easily serve as a predicate justification to stop and seize whatever other contraband exists and arrest you at the same time.  For this reason, it is critical for anyone accused of violating New York’s texting and driving law to speak with an experienced attorney as soon as possible. To schedule a consultation with New York attorney Stephan Jacob Siegel, call our office today at 718-575-3900.

Bribing for a Gun License in NYC

In New York, you must have the proper permission to purchase, own, or possess a handgun. Before you buy or possess a gun, you must apply for a Pistol Permit with the proper licensing authority in your city or county, which is generally the County Sheriff in most upstate counties and the New York City Police Department Licensing Division in New York City. When you receive a license to purchase a gun, you may only purchase or possess the specific weapon that is noted on your license and the weapon must be properly registered and carried in accordance with the restrictions on your particular license.

One individual in New York City recently tried to get around the gun licensing requirements in a surprising manner–by trying to bribe New York Police Department officers. The requirements to have a gun license approved by NYPD in New York City are even more stringent than in the rest of the state. For example, law enforcement officers will review your application for accuracy and will always conduct a thorough background check. Many different marks on your record can prevent approval of your gun license, including domestic violence accusations, criminal convictions, or even certain traffic offenses. Because of these strict requirements and a complex bureaucratic process, most people are denied licenses.  Hiring a lawyer familiar with the pistol permit process helps but still provides only a slightly better chance of obtaining the prized and increasingly rare New York City Carry Permit.

The man in the news decided that trying to bribe officers was a better way around waiting for a gun license or receiving possible denials. Allegedly, the man was trying to secure gun licenses for his clients, who were willing to pay thousands of dollars for the licenses. He reportedly offered an NYPD officer $6,000 to speed up the license approval process for several people, claiming that he had used previous connections to obtain 150 licenses. He is now facing federal bribery charges, which can result in very serious penalties if convicted.

Call a New York Criminal Defense Lawyer for More Information Today

The penalties for gun crimes and related offenses are very serious in New York and anyone accused of a gun crime should immediately call an experienced NY criminal defense attorney for help. There are many ways to defend against gun offenses, however, timing is very important in these cases. At the Law Office of Stephan Jacob Siegel, we can begin building an effective defense strategy from the moment of your arrest, so please do not hesitate to call our office for more information if you have been arrested or charged with any crime.

Forged License Plate Could Lead to Arrest

A woman in New York made headlines after she was arrested for forging a license plate, among various other offenses. The 28-year-old woman allegedly took a piece of cardboard and attempted to replicate the New York license plate with yellow and blue paint. When police spotted the fake plate, they pulled her over and discovered she was violating several other laws, as well, and placed her under arrest.

While painting a piece of cardboard may not seem like that serious of an offense, the woman now faces several charges–some that may result in serious consequences. According to news sources, allegations against her include the following:

● Three traffic infractions
● Driving with suspended vehicle registration — Misdemeanor offense
● Driving with no insurance — Misdemeanor offense
● Possessing a forged instrument — Felony offense

Penalties for Forged Instruments in New York
The criminal charge of possession of a forged instrument can apply to many different situations, including:

● Having or presenting a fake driver’s license, passport, or other government-issued identification
● Having a fake credit or debit card
● Having or using counterfeit cash
● Using forged certifications or professional licenses
● Using forged checks or signatures on checks

To convict you of possessing a forged instrument, the prosecutor must prove certain the following elements:

● You knew you had a false or modified instrument and
● You intended to use the false instrument to defraud another party.

The punishment for a conviction will depend on the circumstances of your situation and the type of item that was allegedly forged. For example, having a fake ID can result in less serious penalties that having counterfeit currency. However, convictions for any forged instrument offenses can result in jail time and a serious felony on your criminal record. It is always important to have an experienced criminal defense lawyer handling your forged instrument case.

Contact a NY Criminal Defense Attorney as Soon as Possible
If you are arrested for any type of offense in New York, it is critical to seek quality and experienced defense representation as soon as you can. While your case may seem relatively minor, even traffic-related allegations and misdemeanor charges can result in serious penalties that can have lasting effects on your life. At the Law Office of Stephan Jacob Siegel, we help clients with a wide array of criminal offenses, from traffic tickets to violent felony crimes. No matter the reason why you were arrested, call us today at 718-575-3900 for more information.

Stalking Creates Element of Fear

Stalking is a serious criminal offense in New York. Under New York Law, there are four classifications of stalking—Fourth Degree, Third Degree, Second Degree, and First Degree. Even the least serious of stalking charges can have a lasting impact on your life. If you have been accused, you probably feel scared and confused. You may feel like you did nothing wrong and that there is a big misunderstanding. You probably don’t understand how the alleged victim felt frightened by you. If this is the case, you need a NY criminal defense attorney to prove that your actions were taken out of context.

Under New York Law, stalking in the Fourth Degree is a Class D Misdemeanor and carries a maximum of up to 90 days in jail. NY penal laws define stalking as the unwarranted pursuit of another person and not a one-time event. Instead, it is characterized as a pattern of malicious and willful behavior. A person is guilty of stalking in the Fourth Degree if they intentionally and for no legitimate purpose in a course of conduct directed at a particular person knowingly or should have knowledge that such action:

  • Is likely to cause fear of personal physical harm or fear about safety of property of the victim, a family member or acquaintance
  • Causes harm mentally or emotionally to the victim by calling, initiating communication or contact with the person
  • Is likely to cause the victim reasonable fear that their business, career, employment will be threatened by appearing, telephoning, initiating communication or contact and the accused person had earlier been told to cease such conduct

To put this in more simple terms, an alleged victim of stalking behavior does not have to actually be in fear.  Rather, the actions must be likely to cause fear. Behaving in an obnoxious manner that is not threatening is generally not sufficient enough to establish that someone is guilty of stalking. There must be a ”likelihood” that the offender’s behaviors will cause someone to have “reasonable” fear of harm or action. The term reasonable in this context relies heavily on the history that precipitated the stalker’s behavior.  The victim may experience reasonable fear based on their past experiences with their stalker. To prove there is a reasonable likelihood of fear, the court must prove that there is direct, circumstantial, implicit, or historical evidence of violent or intimidating behavior.

If you have been charged with stalking it is best to immediately contact a NY criminal defense attorney. Due to the seriousness of this law in New York, cases can be a hard nut to crack. At the Law Office of Stephan Jacob Siegel, Esq. we have the resources, expertise, exposure and dedication to get you the best outcome. Call us for a free consultation at (718) 575-3900.

What’s the Difference between Petit and Grand Larceny?

According to New York Law, larceny is the left of property with notable value. It occurs when an individual wrongfully takes, obtains, or withholds property from the rightful owner, with the intent to deprive the owner. Property is defined as any substance or item of value. This can include money, personal property, intangibles, contracts, credit/debit cards, firearms, gas, water, electricity, and religious artifacts New York Penal laws identify specific methods of committing theft, including:

  • By trick or embezzlement
  • Obtaining by false pretense
  • Acquiring lost property
  • Taking property through extortion
  • Issuing a bad check

Theft charges are classified as either Petit Larceny or Grand Larceny based on the monetary value of the property involved. Petit Larceny is classified as a Misdemeanor offense, while Grand Larceny is a felony. Items stolen with a higher value will result in more serious charges, and subsequently carry more severe penalties. However, certain stolen property is considered to be Grand Larceny, regardless of it’s worth. Multiple charges of petty theft can result in a felony charge.

Petit Larceny

Petty theft is the lowest-level theft offense. It is the unlawful taking of property with a value of $1,000 or less. Under New York Law, it is classified as a Class A Misdemeanor. This has a penalty of up to a year in prison or a fine of $1,000.

Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree

If the value of the item or service stolen is more than $1,000 or if it is a firearm, motor vehicle, or other specified property under the law it is a Class E Felony. The penalties include imprisonment up to four years and a fine of up to $5,000 or double an offender’s gain from the offense.  

Grand Larceny in the Third Degree

It is a Class D Felony if the value of property stolen exceeds $3,000 or if it is an ATM or its contents. It will result in a prison time of up to seven years and fine not to exceed $5,000 or double an offender’s gain from the offense

Grand Larceny in the Second Degree

If the value stolen exceeds $50,000 or it is obtained through extortion, you will be charged with a Class C Felony. If found guilty, you can face up fifteen years imprisonment and a fine of $15,000 or double the amount gained from the offense.

Grand Larceny in the First Degree 

This is the most serious theft charge. It is a Class B Felony to steal property with a value of over $1,000,000. You could go to jail for up to twenty-five years and a fine of up to $5,000 or double the amount gained from the offense.

If you are facing a larceny and theft, we are here to assist you. We will review your case and provide direction to ensure you get a fair trial. At Stephan Jacob Siegel, Esq., we have the experience to handle your legal issues. Call us today for a free consultation (718) 575-3900.

Second Degree Aggravated Harassment: What You Need To Know

One of the more common criminal arrests in New York is for Second Degree Aggravated Harassment, which police take seriously and often move to arrest first and ask questions later. It can often be defended against, as one of the cornerstones in harassment law involves an individual having reasonable cause to fear for their safety. This is not always clear-cut in second degree aggravated harassment cases, and it must be proven that regular threats have crossed a line into harassment, a serious charge for all involved. Here is one interesting case that has to do with this law, NY 240.30.

People v. Gibbs: This was a particularly interesting case in which the defendant left an angry message on the mobile phone of an associate, screaming at them about a third party who had harmed the defendant, and adding additional threats against the person in receipt of the call. The message remarked angrily on the police’s involvement in the case, and additionally ending in a threat that if “you think it’s bad what I did to David, you’re going to see what’s going to happen to you.” The individual who received the message reported it to police, and said that it made her fear for her physical safety. However, the court found that this evidence was not legally sufficient.

Establishing the Crime: In order to successfully establish the crime of second degree aggravated harassment, the prosecution must prove to have satisfied the following four elements:

  1. The accused had intent to harass the complainant
  2. The defendant caused the communication to occur
  3. There was a threat of physical harm
  4. The defendant knew that the complainant would have a reasonable fear of harm from the communication

If even one of these elements was missing from the complaint and could not be proven, it would be very difficult for the case to go successfully. In the case of Gibbs above, the court said that the threat did not go into specifics of what would happen to the complainant, and it was not a cause for immediate concern.

Fully knowing what must be shown to prove a fear of reasonable threat, as well as the intent and action for it to happen is a key tool in a successful defense for any charge of second degree aggravated harassment. There cannot be any ambiguity in the above four elements, and without those, the case can even be dismissed.

Know your Options: If you are being accused or charged with second degree aggravated harassment, you should immediately consult with an established and experienced attorney. Here at Queens Criminal Defense Law, we provide a wide variety of defenses for our valued clients throughout the New York metro area. For a free consultation about my three decades of extensive work and expertise, call me, Stephan Jacob Siegel, today at 718-575-3900 to learn more.