Drug possession crimes are dealt with under criminal law and consist of having one or more illegal drugs in one’s possession.
Drug possession falls into two categories: possession for Personal Use and Possession with the Intent to Sell/Distribute.
- Drug possession charges with the intent to sell/distribute involve cases where an individual is proven to have acquired drugs to use, sell, or distribute to others.
- On the other hand, possession for personal use applies in cases where illegal drugs are found, but there is no evidence to prove any intent to sell or distribute to others.
Under the NY Penal Code, there are seven degrees of drug possession charges, often depending on the substance, the amount, the severity of the situation, and the intent of the person who possesses the drugs.
- 7th Degree Possession: The possession of a controlled substance and in a small amount, most likely for personal use.
- 5th Degree Possession: The possession of a controlled substance with the intent to sell. This charge also applies to specific amounts of certain substances, like at least 500 mg of cocaine.
- 4th Degree Possession: The possession of preparations containing a narcotic drug with a weight of ⅛ oz or more. The possession of preparations containing concentrated cannabis with a weight of 1oz or more.
- 3rd Degree Possession: The possession of a narcotic with the intent to sell. This charge also applies to specific amounts of certain substances, like at least 1 gram of stimulants.
- 2nd Degree Possession: The possession of preparations containing a narcotic drug with a weight of four oz or more. This charge also applies to specific amounts of certain substances, like at least 10 grams of stimulants.
- 1st Degree Possession: The possession of at least 8 oz preparations containing a narcotic drug or 5,760 mg of methadone.
- The presence of a controlled substance in an automobile also qualifies as presumptive evidence of a knowingly being in criminal possession of the drug.
Murder is a type of criminal offense that falls under the category of homicide, which entails situations where one person causes the death of another person or multiple people. Murder, specifically, is a homicide committed when one person intentionally causes the death of another person or multiple people.
There are two main types of murder charges anyone over the age of 18 could face under the NY Penal Code:
- First Degree Murder charges occur when a person has the intent to kill, and the killing is premeditated and deliberated. This means any individual charged with first degree murder planned out their actions ahead of time. Circumstances like the method used (like torture, poisioning, or bombing), who the victims are, and the number of people involved also play a major role in determining a first degree murder charge.
- Second Degree Murder charges occur when a person intentionally kills and exhibits a pattern of reckless conduct. Second degree murder does not involve special cirumstances, unlike first degree murder.
Manslaughter, like murder, is a part of criminal law that deals with homicide, or when one person causes the death of another person or several other people. However, unlike murder, manslaughter does not involve the premiditated intent to kill. Because of this, manslaughter is often treated as less severe of a crime than murder.
Manslaughter can be categorized as either voluntary or involuntary, with criminal charges ranging in severity.
- Voluntary manslaughter involves no prior intent to kill before someone causes the death of another person or people. Instead, voluntary manslaughter can be seen as spur of the moment killing or a killing in response to provocation.
- Involuntary manslaughter involves unintentionally killing another person or people. Unlike voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter is when there is no intention to do any harm to someone else. Involuntary manslaughter can occur in the form of reckless behavior (like drinking and driving), negligence, or criminal activity.
Larceny is a kind of criminal offence that deals with the theft of the property or services of another person or business. Unlike burglary, larceny does not involve the unlawful entry into any building structure. Instead, larceny charges solely rely on depriving someone else of their property or services, whether that be through stealing, withholding, or false promises, for instance.
Under the NY Penal Code, specific larceny charges depend on the monetary value and classification of the property as well as the method of how it was obtained. Some examples include:
- First Degree Grand Larceny: when the value of the property or service exceeds one million dollars.
- Second Degree Grand Larceny: when the value of the property or service exceeds $50,000 or if the property or service was obtained through extortion.
- Third Degree Grand Larceny: when the value of the property or service exceeds $3,000 or the property itself is an ATM or its contents.
- Fourth Degree Grand Larceny: when the value of the property or service exceeds $1,000 or the property itself is a firearm, vehicle, or credit/debit card.
- Petit Larceny: known as “petty theft,” or when the value of an unlawfully-obtained property or service does not exceed $1,000.
Among many other criminal offences, criminal law deals with burglary, which is the unlawful entry into any building structure, whether it be a home, store, etc, with the intent to commit a crime inside. Unlike larceny, burglary charges only involve the unlawful entry with the intent to commit a crime, and does not depend on whether or not the crime itself is carried out. Rather, entering a home or building without the consent of the property owner, whether through extreme or minimal force, and intending or attempting to commit a crime qualifies as a burglary.
The specific types of burglary charges depend on a number of factors, including the force used, severity of the crime itself, and the burglar’s criminal history.
Under the NY Penal Code, burglary charges are differentiated as:
- First Degree Burglary: When someone knowingly and unlawfully enters a dwelling with the intent to commit a crime inside. What makes a burglary charge first degree depends on serious circumstances, like being armed with an explosive or deadly weapon, or causing injury to another person.
- Second Degree Burglary: When someone knowingly and unlawfully enters a dwelling with the intent to commit a crime inside. Second degree charges are given when the building is a dwelling and the person is armed with a deadly weapon, causes physical injury to another person, or threatens/displays a firearm/deadly weapon.
- Third Degree Burglary: When someone knowingly and unlawfully enters a building, not a dwelling, with the intent to commit a crime inside.
Under criminal law, robbery is defined as the unlawful stealing of or the attempt at stealing someone else’s property by force. Robbery also includes any threats made to use force in order to steal property, putting victims in a state of fear.
Under the New York Penal Code, robbery charges vary in severity, depending on the circumstances, the severity of the situation, and the number of people involved in the crime.
- Robbery in the first degree: when a person forcibly steals another’s property, and in the process, causes serious physical injury to another person not involved in the crime. This charge also applies to situations where one is armed with a deadly weapon, uses or threatens the use of a dangerous instrument or weapon, or displays a firearm.
- Robbery in the second degree: when a person forcibly steals another’s property that is classified as a motor vehicle, or is aided in the act by another person. This charge also applies to situations where, in the course of committing the crime, one causes physical injury to someone who is not a participant in the crime or displays a firearm.
- Robbery in the third degree: when a person forcibly steals another’s property.
In criminal law, assault is defined as an intentional action which puts another individual in immediate harm or inflicts unwanted physical contact. Assault charges may vary in degree from the threat of harm to actual acts of physical harm (battery) to acts of offensive harm such as the use of a deadly weapon (aggravated assault).
Assault is considered both a crime and a tort, which can result in criminal AND civil liability.
Under the NY Penal Code, assault charges are differentiated as:
- Assault in the first-degree.
- Assault in the second-degree.
- Assault in the third degree.
- Assault on a judge: the intent to cause physical harm and prevent the judge from performing their duties.
- Assault on a police officer, fireman, or emergency medical professional: the intent to prevent a police officer, fireman, or emergency medical professional from performing their duty and causing serious harm to them.
- Aggravated assault upon a person less than eleven years old: when an individual commits assault in the third degree on a person less than eleven years old AND has been previously committed of such crime in the past ten years.
- Aggravated assault upon a police officer: the intent to cause serious physical injury to a person he/she should reasonably know to be a police officer.
Harassment refers to a number of acts that are intended to harass, annoy, threaten, upset, or alarm people. Harassment is subject to both criminal and civil charges depending on the severity of the situation. Some examples range from stalking, to direct threats to harm a person, and to more severe situations like sexual and discriminatory harassment.
Under the NY Penal Code, harassment is divided into degrees as follows:
- First degree harassment: when an individual repeatedly and intentionally harasses another by following them in public or acting in a way that places them in the reasonable fear of danger.
- Second degree harassment: when an individual intentionally harasses another by physically hurting them or attempting to, following them in public, and acts in a way that causes unnecessary alarm.
- Aggravated harassment: when an individual intentionally harasses another BECAUSE OF their perceived race, gender, age, religion, disability, origin/ancestry, or sexual orientation. This is differentiated by two degrees. The second degree is typically when the harasser communicates with the victim by phone or mail and strikes or attempts to strike an individual.
The first degree is when the harasser damages a premises and depicts offensive viewings such as, setting a cross on fire.
Money laundering is the act of concealing financial transactions where money is obtained illegally, and is punishable under criminal law. Money laundering is usually associated with organized crime, where individuals seek to conceal details such as the source of the money to appear as if their finances were obtained legally.
Under the NY Penal Code, some examples of money laundering are:
- Money laundering in the first degree: When a person who knows that the property in one or more financial transactions represents the proceeds of the criminal sale of a controlled substance with intent to: promote the continuation of the criminal conduct, engage in conduct constituting a felony, or conceal the nature, location, source, ownership or control of the proceeds. First degree felonies are assigned to cases where the transactions exceed one million dollars.
- Money laundering in the second degree: When a person who knows that the property in one or more financial transactions represents the proceeds of the criminal sale of a controlled substance with intent to: promote the continuation of the criminal conduct, engage in conduct constituting a felony, or conceal the nature, location, source, ownership, or control of the proceeds. Second degree felonies are assigned to cases where the transactions exceed $50,000.
Under criminal law, crimes of extortion involve attempts to obtain money or any other valuable possessions by means of force or a threat. Extortion involves coercion, which is when one forcibly persuades another to do something, usually by instilling fear through force or threats of using force.
Under the NY Penal Code, extortion is defined under three degrees for coercion:
- Coercion in the first degree: commiting the crime of coercion in the second degree AND does so by instilling a fear of causing physical injury to a person/causing damage to property OR forces the individual to commit a felony, cause injury to another individual, or violate their duty as a public servant.
- Coercion in the second degree: commiting the crime of coercion in the third degree AND when one compels an individual to engage in sexual conduct.
- Coercion in the third degree: forcing another individual to engage in conduct they could normally refrain from by threatening to cause physical injury, cause damage to property, accuse an individual of a crime, expose a secret, cause a group labor action against a business, testify or withhold testimony with respect to another’s legal claim, or harm another individual’s safety, career, reputation, etc.
Fraud is the act of attempting to gain monetary or personal gain, by means of deception, including false statements or misrepresentation. Fraud is considered under both criminal law and civil law, but in criminal law, fraud must be proven “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
The most common types of fraud include:
- Identity Theft: when someone steals another’s personal information to commit fraud. This personal information can be used to apply for credit, file taxes, or get medical services, carrying the potential to seriously damage one’s credit status.
- Bankruptcy Fraud: when someone conceals their assets to avoid having to forfeit them in a bankruptcy.
- Tax Evasion: when someone deliberately conceals or lies about their finances to either avoid paying taxes or lower the amount they pay in taxes.
- Insurance Fraud: when someone intentionally lies to obtain an insurance benefit or, on the other hand, when a company intentionally denies someone a benefit they are entitled to.
- Credit Card Fraud: a form of identity theft where someone unlawfully steals another person’s credit card information to make purchases.
- Telemarketing Fraud: when unknown telemarketers call individuals asking them for personal and financial information with the intent to use for their personal gain.
- Wire Fraud: Committing fraud over phone lines or via electronic communication.
Under criminal law, racketeering deals with organized crime groups that either run illegal businesses or use legitimate businesses to embezzle money. For instance, racketeering can include illegal gambling, prostitution rings, drug trafficking, counterfeiting, robbery, arson, and embezzlement.
The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO Act) provides extended criminal penalties and a civil cause of action for acts performed as part of an ongoing criminal organization, focusing on racketeering, allowing leaders to be tried for crimes they have ordered others to do.
Weapons possession is a charge that falls under criminal law where one is caught violating state regulations when it comes to possessing a weapon. While this most popularly applies to firearms, it can also apply to other weapons like knives and tasers.
New York is known for having some of the most strict weapon laws in the country, and the penalties for weapons possession are as follows:
- Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the First Degree: When a person is caught with an explosive device and intends to use it, or if they are in possession of 10 or more firearms.
- Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree: When a person is accused of having a loaded weapon with the intent to unlawfully use it on another person. This charge is also given to those who possess 5 or more firearms.
- Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Third Degree: When a weapon is defaced to to hide any identifiers, like its serial number, or when a person possesses 3 or more weapons.
- Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Fourth Degree: This applies to anyone carrying any kind of illegal weapon, and is the least severe weapons offence.
Cyber crimes are typical criminal offenses that involve the use of online networks or computers, and are rising in popularity in the digital age.
Some examples of internet crimes include:
- Email phishing scams: when spam emails are sent to multiple people, usually posing as another business, asking for confidential information.
- Cyberbullying: harassing someone online, whether it be an annoyance or physical threats of violence. Cyberbullying can also be categorized as harassment under criminal law.
- Identity theft: when personal and sensitive information are stolen online, and in some cases, also sold online.
- Child pornography: the possession of child pornography, either found or distributed online, is punishable under both federal and New York state law. Child pornography applies to the possession of any sexual performance by a child younger than 17 years old.
- Online scams: online scams can occur in several different ways, but most commonly occur via email, where scammers pose as companies or businesses and ask for money and/or personal information.
- Selling fake pharmaceuticals: online scammers will sell counterfeit drugs either falsely advertised as a popular medication, or marketed as a new experimental medication. These scams are very dangerous, since the purchased goods, if they even are delivered, may contain harmful ingredients that should not be consumed.
Computer crime laws are enforced to protect against common crimes which may involve a network/computer such as fraud, hacking, cybercrime, identify theft, and more. Some common examples of computer crimes include: improperly accessing a system/computer, using a computer in a fraud scheme, sending a virus to a system, false email information, surveillance, and sharing child pornography.
Under the NY Penal Code, computer crime charges are differentiated as:
- Computer trespass: knowingly accesses a computer, system, or network without authorization with the intent to commit a felony.
- Computer tampering in the first-degree: commits the crime of computer tampering in the fourth degree and intentionally destroys computer data cause damages exceeding $50,000 thousand dollars.
- Computer tampering in the second-degree: accessing or using a computer, system, or networking without authorization and intentionally alters or destroys computer data which:
- contains medical history causing suffering/injury to a person
- causes damages exceeding $3,000.
- Computer tampering in the third degree: accessing or using a computer, system, or networking without authorization and intentionally alters or destroys computer data and:
- Does so with an intent/attempt to commit any felony
- Has been previously convicted of any crime under this article
- Cause damages exceeding one thousand dollars.
- Computer Tampering in the fourth degree: accessing or using a computer, system, or networking without authorization and intentionally alters or destroys computer data.
Domestic violence encompasses all crimes involving individuals in the same household, in a romantic relationship, or family members. Victims of domestic violence can raise criminal charges in criminal court AND civil charges in family court.
These crimes include:
- Assault: Physical violence, such as hitting, punching, kicking, or throwing things at another person.
- Stalking: Following, monitoring, or tracking another person without their consent.
- Harassment: Repeatedly alarming or distressing someone.
- Aggravated Harassment: occurs when a person intentionally acts to harass, threaten, annoy or alarm another person, using a telephone, telegraph, the mail or any form of written communication, including electronic means.
- Menacing: occurs when an individual knowingly places another person in fear by means of a threat or physical action.
- Reckless endangerment: occurs when a person engages in conduct which creates substantial jeopardy of severe corporeal trauma to another person.
- Disorderly conduct: Disturbing behavior, such as fighting or yelling.
- Criminal Mischief: When someone destroys or steals property without permission. This includes property owned and shared by the individuals involved in the situation, like breaking a phone or stealing a car.
- Sexual abuse: Any unwanted and forceful sexual conduct on another person.
- Intimidation: Actions or threats that instill fear in someone else. It is also considered intimidation when one forces another to do something, or on the other hand, one stops another from doing something.
- Murder: Intentionally causing the death of another person.
- Grand Larceny: Unlawfully taking someone’s property that is valued over $1,000.
- Coercion: Attempting to prevent someone from doing something they legally have the right to.
There are a number of sex crimes punishable under both NY and federal criminal law. Regardless of the crime, sex crimes are inherently defined by a lack of consent.
Under New York Penal Law, here are some of the various sex crimes one coud face:
- Rape in the first degree: When a person engages in sexual intercourse with another person who is incapable of consent by being physically helpless or is less than 11 years old.
- Rape in the second degree: When a person engages in sexual intercourse with another person who is incapable of consent, is under 15 years old, or is mentally disabled or incapacitated.
- Rape in the third degree: When a person engages in sexual intercourse with another person who is incapable of consent, or is under 17 years old.
- Sexual misconduct: When a person engages in sexual intercourse or oral sexual conduct without another person’s consent. This charge is also reserved for those who engage in sexual conduct with an animal or a dead human body.
- Forcible touching: When a person intentionally and forcibly touches sexual or intimate parts of another person.
Persistent sexual abuse: When a person is guilty of forcible touching and has committed the same crime multiple times in the past 10 years
An individual convicted of a crime may appeal their case or present to a higher court to determine if an error was made in their trial or sentencing.