There simply is no substitute for high-caliber legal representation when you have been indicted or arrested in Manhattan. You have too much to lose. The Blanch Law Firm has been defending clients facing criminal investigations and charges for more than a decade. From misdemeanors to felonies, our attorneys have the knowledge, resources and track record to obtain the best possible results. Our attorneys treat every case with the highest level of attention. While we do everything necessary to defend you, we still find it imperative that you understand how Manhattan criminal court works. In short, this is what happens in an arrest:
If a police officer or federal agent has a warrant or sees you do something that establishes probable cause — such as fleeing the scene of a crime, you can be arrested. If an officer arrests you and takes you into custody, you likely will be taken to a precinct, or in the case of a federal investigation, to a federal law enforcement facility. This will vary depending on the agency. Officers will fill out paperwork with your identification information. Most likely, the authorities will interrogate you about the case. Beware, you should not say anything until you talk to an attorney. It can be tempting to talk to police to tell them your side of the story. Do not do it. Any statement you make will be used as evidence against you. Police may not have enough evidence without your statement to charge you. So do not make one. If police believe they have sufficient evidence to charge you, you must appear before a judge and be arraigned on the charges. Not every charge requires a court appearance. Less-serious charges such as misdemeanors receive a desk appearance ticket (DAT), which states a specific date and time to appear at Manhattan Criminal Court or Midtown Community Court. If you do not appear at the appointed date and time, a warrant will be issued for your arrest. If you face more serious charges and are taken into custody, police may hold you for 24 hours or more before they take you for arraignment.
An arraignment is a brief, initial court appearance that takes place when charges are filed. You will have the charges explained to you and receive a copy of them. A judge then determines whether to set bail and how much it should be. Bail is determined by a number of factors, including the severity of the crime and the risk that you will fail to appear in court when required.
State court arraignments in Manhattan take place at New York County Criminal Court, 100 Centre Street, one block from Worth Street near Leonard Street and Franklin Street.
To arrive by public transportation, take the No. 4 or 5 train to the Brooklyn Bridge Station; the C, N, R, 6 train to Canal Street; the 1 train to Franklin Street. Take the 1, 6 or 15 bus line.
Some arraignments (and DATs) take place at Midtown Community Court, 314 West 54th Street. For public transportation, take the N or R train to the 57th Street Station or the A, C, D, 1, 9 train to the Columbus Circle Station.
Charges filed by a federal law enforcement agency require arraignment before a federal judge. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York is at 500 Pearl Street in Manhattan.
Directions: At the Grand Central Terminal, transfer to a 4, 5 or 6 subway downtown to Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall Station. Exit at the rear of the platform, towards the last car of the subway train. When you come up above ground you will be standing in Foley Square. Pearl Street is across the square. The courthouse is 1/2 block down Pearl Street but you must enter through the security checkpoint on Worth Street, at the top, or north end, of Foley Square, on the left side of the two large courthouses. Go right on Worth Street for 1 block to the courthouse. Alternatively, you can take the M103 Bus downtown from Grand Central by catching it on Lexington Avenue. Just outside the side door to Grand Central, look for the M103 sign on a pole. Just past Chinatown, the bus will stop at the corner of Worth Street and Park Row. The courthouse is 1/2 block down Worth Street. Allow 35 minutes for the bus from Grand Central.
After an arraignment, it may feel as if a lot of time will pass before your next court date. But during this time, the attorneys at Blanch Law firm are building your defense. We have an extensive defense motion practice in which attorneys request court orders that target the prosecution’s case.
Hundreds of motions are available to us. Depending on the circumstances of your case, we might file motions:
- Seeking dismissal of the case
- To exclude witness testimony
- To suppress certain evidence
- To suppress a prior criminal record
- For a change of venue
Open file discovery is of critical use to our defense lawyers. The general public often mistakenly believes a prosecutor is provides a defendant with all information and evidence in the case. Unfortunately, we consistently see prosecutors omit important evidence from the case file that is shared with defense counsel. Our attorneys file discovery motions to make certain our clients have every scrap of evidence that may be considered in building a thorough defense. It is not up to the prosecutor to decide what is important. It is up to you and your defense team.
An Interview with the Blanch Law Firms Junior Partner, Elena Fast
Can you describe a Case that Impacts Your Practice of Criminal Defense?
People v. Molineux, 168 N.Y. 264 (1901).
New York Court of Appeals
In this particular case there was a homicide followed by another homicide. The issue was whether a defense attorney or a prosecutor may introduce uncharged crimes in their “case in chief” (meaning in their case at trial) to establish some sort of perspective for a jury.
Under New York State law, the prosecution is unable to present evidence of uncharged crimes because that is incredibly prejudicial to the individual on trial.
The thinking behind this is that the jury may be confusing the charged crimes that are presented to them that they have to deliberate on with evidence of the other bad conduct.
Unless the charges on the indictment are on the complaint, generally, the prosecution is unable to present any sort of evidence or testimony regarding uncharged crimes or other bad behavior. The exception to that is called a Molineux exception.
What is the Molineux Exception?
A prosecutor is able to make a Molineux application in advance of trial. Judges typically decide on whether or not the prosecutor is able to present evidence of uncharged crimes in advance of trial in order to avoid any element of unfair surprise.
What Does Molineux Allow the Prosecution to Do?
What Molineux allows the prosecutor to do is introduce evidence that will make it easier for the jury to understand the case and understand the charges and, in some situations, to help the prosecutors case (or at least to supplement the proof on some of the other elements)
So, what Molineux allows the prosecutor to do is put in evidence of prior bad acts.
In very limited circumstances:
“Motive” – The prosecutor is able to introduce evidence of uncharged crimes to show that the defendant that’s on trial had a motive to commit the crime that he’s being charged with that the jury is deliberating on.
“Identity” – The prosecutor is also able to introduce evidence of uncharged crimes to establish the individual’s identity. So, for example, if there was another bank robbery that the defendant committed while wearing the very same outfit that he was wearing in the crime in question and if for whatever reason the crimes were charged on separate indictments the prosecutor is able to present evidence of this other incident with the individual wearing that clothing to prove the identity of the perpetrator in the case that’s being presented to the jury.
“Lack of Mistake” – The prosecutor is also able to present this Molineux evidence to show that there was no mistake or a lack of mistake. Some crimes are “intentional” crimes meaning that in order for you to be guilty of something you have to have “malice intent.” So, the prosecutor is able to seek judicial permission to show that the act was intentionally committed. For example, in a situation of domestic violence the husband could say, “Look, I didn’t push my wife down the stairs. It happened by accident and she fell on her own.” In that case, the prosecutor is able to introduce previous incidents of domestic violence in that relationship to show that the wife falling down the stairs was not a chance incident. Rather, the prosecutor will use this evidence to show it was an intentional act.
“Overall Scheme or Plan” – The prosecutor could also introduce this evidence to show that it was part of overall scheme or plan. For example, we had a financial fraud case involving a Ponzi scheme. Even though our client was charged with taking money from the main investor and not paying it back, the prosecution sought permission. Even though we opposed it, the judge granted it in order to show that our client and his business partner had actually borrowed money from other people. That money was used to prove that at the time our clients solicited this big investor they had no intent of paying the money back because that money was already due to other individuals that they have borrowed money from and then subsequently repaid them from the funds given to them by the main investor.
What is the Takeaway?
The takeaway is that, in very limited circumstances, evidence of uncharged crimes in New York State Court is admissible.
However, prior to allowing the admission of this evidence, the judges have to weigh both:
- the relevance of this evidence; and
- the prejudicial impact on the defendant
This determination is all done with pretrial motions that have to be decided well in advance of trial because the defense attorney really needs to understand what evidence will be presented in the case before going to trial.
In some situations, the Molineux evidence is just so bad that the defense already would strongly need to advise the client to consider taking a plea on the matter because the Molineux really puts things in perspective for the jury and it closes a lot of the loopholes that the defense would have had without that evidence being introduced.
- Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., on May 2 announced that David Tarloff, 46, was sentenced to life in prison for the 2008 murder of Dr. Kathryn Faughey and the assault of her colleague, Dr. Kent Shinbach. The two psychiatrists shared an office in an Upper East Side. Tarloff went to the office to rob Shinbach. He encountered Faughey as she was leaving and stabbed her in the chest and beat her in the head with a mallet. Faughey was cut numerous times with a cleaver. A New York State Supreme Court jury found Tarloff guilty of first- and second-degree murder, first-degree assault, and first-degree attempted robbery.
- The District Attorney’s Office has obtained indictments against 11 defendants accused of stealing credit card and identity information from customers at Hale and Hearty Soups in Manhattan. Iesha Jackson of the Bronx worked at the restaurant and used a skimming device to obtain customers’ credit and debit card information. There were more than 60 victims. Jackson, her boyfriend Gerald Spears, and the other defendants used the information to purchase more than $90,000 worth of jewelry and other goods. They face numerous fraud, identity theft and grand larceny charges.
- U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara announced on April 30 that Anatoly Golubchik and Vadim Trincher each were was sentenced to five years in prison for participating in a racketeering conspiracy through a Russian-American organized crime enterprise. They were each ordered to forfeit more than $20 million in cash, investments, and real property. The men operated a high-stakes, illegal sports gambling business out of New York City that catered primarily to Russian oligarchs living in Ukraine and Russia. They then laundered the money through shell companies and bank accounts in Cypress. The U.S. attorney said 32 other alleged members and associates of two Russian-American organized crime enterprises were indicted on charges including racketeering, money laundering, extortion, and various gambling offenses.