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New York employment law attorneysIt is not unusual for people to enter into various agreements with others but fail or neglect to have those agreements down in writing. Under New York and other state laws, an employment agreement must be in writing in order to be enforced, but there are exceptions that could be made.

Employment Without a Written Agreement

In certain cases, an employer may, in good faith, extend a job offer to you, but due to changed economic circumstances or other reasons, the employer either withdraws the offer before you report to work or terminates your employment soon thereafter. If either occurs, then the issue becomes whether you have any recourse against that employer.

Statute of Frauds

To resolve the issue of whether an employer has rightly withdrawn an offer of employment or has properly terminated your employment, the first thing to do is determine whether the Statute of Frauds applies.

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New York employment law attorneysThere has been a wave of states that have taken the view that possession of marijuana should not be a criminal offense. Accordingly, many of them have been working diligently to change their laws. New York has recently passed and put into effect a law that decriminalizes possession of marijuana.

Previously, New York was one of 29 states and the District of Columbia that legalized use of marijuana for medical purposes. However, even though medicinal use of marijuana was allowed in New York, the possession and use of marijuana remained illegal under federal law. That still is the case, even with marijunana being decriminalized on the state level.

Given this obvious contradiction between federal and state laws, there are several legal issues still unresolved. These concerns will likely be addressed through the years in the court systems to finally bring some clarity as to what is permitted regarding marijuana under both federal and state laws..

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New York civil rights attorneysThe thought of suing the government is daunting, but to make the task less daunting, Congress passed Title 42 of the United States Code, which is part of the Civil Rights Act of 1871. A particular section of this law—namely, Section 1983—a allows an individual to sue a government official, employee or agent who violates his or her constitutional rights.

Of course, initiating legal action against any government entity or agent can be complex. It is important to speak with a skilled attorney so that you can get the guidance you need throughout the process.

What Does Section 1983 Cover?

Section 1983 claims are available as a means to obtain relief for a range of constitutional violations, which include the following:

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New York Labor Union LawyersA federal law known as the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) guarantees workers in the private sector the right to form a union and collectively bargain. Collective bargaining simply means employees, through their representatives, negotiating as a group with an employer regarding their wages and other conditions of work.

Employee representatives are usually unions organized by types of employment, and each union represents its members in negotiations with an employer involving a range of issues, such as wages, hours worked, grievances and other terms and conditions.

The NLRA law is pre-emptive, which means it is more overrides any state law covering the same area as it does. However, states are free to make their own laws in areas not covered by the NLRA. Some of these areas include public sector employees’ rights and private employees not involved in interstate commerce.

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NYC employment law attorneyThe use of social media has grown so much it has become part of nearly everyone’s life. You would be hard-pressed to find someone who does not use social media on a regular basis. Among those in the working-age group, the use of social media such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are part and parcel of their social and work lives.

For this reason, it is not surprising that lines do get blurred and it becomes difficult to tell when use of social media is strictly for work and when it is for personal use. As a result, an employee may find themselves facing disciplinary action for using social media during work hours, and even in some cases during off work hours as well.

Employers Requesting Access to Employee Social Media Accounts

Employers rightly get concerned about blurred or mixed use of social media. For example, employers may be concerned about:

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b2ap3_thumbnail_medical-marijuana-employment-law-questions.jpgNew York is one of the 29 states, plus the District of Columbia, that have legalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes. However, the possession and use of marijuana remains illegal under federal law. This obviously contradictory position between federal and state law on the use of marijuana has created serious questions both in New York and across the country, particularly when it comes to workplace rules.

The Compassionate Care Act

The Compassionate Care Act (CCA) was passed in 2014 and went into effect in January 2016. The law allows the manufacture, sale, and use of medical marijuana in the state of New York. The CCA is scheduled to be in effect for seven years, after which it will automatically expire unless it is renewed.

Effects of CCA on Employment Law

A “certified” medical marijuana patient is deemed to be a disabled person and therefore protected from employment discrimination. At least this is the position taken by some civil rights advocates and labor management organizations such as the Society for Resource Management. However, this view has not been tested in any New York court but there is a good chance there are cases percolating up the system and will sooner or later address this question.

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New York civil service job defense attorneysFederal and state governments operate on complex set laws, rules, policies and procedures, some of which go back to even before the country’s birth. One of these laws in New York is the Freedom of Information Law. This law is intended to provide the public with access to information regarding the goings-on in government. In enacting this law, the New York Legislature declared that government is “the public’s business and that the public, individually and collectively and represented by a free press, should have access to the records of government” as provided under the law.

Getting Access to Government Information and Exceptions to Freedom of Information Law

Freedom of information laws such as these are designed give the public access to information about what the government has done or is doing through its actors and agents. However, all manner of restrictions and exceptions by the affected agencies can make it almost impossible for the average citizen to know what happened or what is going on. Restrictions may apply for a variety of reasons, including national security and personal privacy concerns.

Civil Law 50-a is a section of the New York Civil Rights Law that puts restrictions on releasing to the public certain information deemed to be “personal records” of police officers, firefighters, and corrections officers. This information is precluded from release to the public on the basis it is confidential and therefore “not subject to inspection or review” without the affected officer’s permission.

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New York breach of contract lawyersAmerica has the reputation of being the most litigious country in the world. The common belief is that you can sue or be sued for anything. This is, in fact, not true and by that we mean you cannot sue or be sued for anything. In order to file a civil lawsuit in New York, there are basic requirements that you must satisfy.

Elements of a Breach of Contract Case

In a breach of contract case, the following elements must be established even before a case proceeds to trial:

  • A valid and enforceable contract exists;
  • The plaintiff’s performance of the contract;
  • The alleged breach by the defendant; and
  • Damages or remedies being sought.

You must have evidence in the form of documents and witnesses to prove each one of these elements. If the evidence is not enough, the person or business you are suing can seek to have the case dismissed without a trial. 

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New York Sex Offender Lawyer

Registered sex offenders convicted of a felony for failing to disclose Facebook usage can now get that conviction vacated due to a June 2019 ruling by the New York Court of Appeals. If you believe you were wrongly convicted of a registry violation, contact a Manhattan criminal defense lawyer to discuss your case.

What Are the Requirements of the New York Sex Offender Registration Act?

New York’s Sex Offender Registration Act requires convicted sex offenders to complete an annual verification process with the state Division of Criminal Justice Services. The verification form asks for the offender’s physical address, their school or work location, the name of their internet service provider, their email addresses, and other online identifiers used for the purposes of chat, instant messaging, or social networking. An offender who fails to comply with registry requirements can be charged with a class E felony for a first offense. The penalty for this crime may include up to three years of conditional discharge or probation or up to four years in prison. 

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New York City Self Defense Lawyer

New York City can be a dangerous place, with hundreds of muggings, robberies, burglaries, and assaults happening every week. It behooves everyone to know the state laws regarding self-defense, particularly self-defense in situations involving deadly weapons

The New York penal code  (NYPL article 35) states that the use of physical force is justified in self-defense, in defense of another person, or in order to prevent theft or criminal damage to property.

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New York City Criminal Defense Attorney

When a disagreement gets out of hand, tempers flare and threats are often made. If the police are convinced that your threatening words or behaviors were sufficient to put the victim in fear for their safety, you could be charged with harassment or menacing. If you continue a pattern of harassing behavior over a period of time, you could be charged with stalking. These are three distinct crimes which are generally charged as misdemeanors but can be elevated to felonies if the behavior is severe enough.

Harassment Definition and Penalties in New York

You commit the crime of harassment when you act intentionally and with no legitimate purpose to cause another person to reasonably fear for their physical safety. Harassment is more of a verbal act than a physical act, and it may be anonymous or not. Harassing acts can include verbal threats to cause physical harm to a person, hang-up calls, or electronic communications. Harassment involves a one-time incident or a few incidents, while stalking involves a repeated pattern of behavior over a period of time. Harassment is generally a class A or B misdemeanor.

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New York City Criminal Defense Law Firm

In the past, the New York district attorneys who prosecute criminal cases have been able to withhold crucial evidence from defendants until just before a trial. This practice has heavily biased the criminal justice system against those accused of a crime. Only two percent of felony convictions happen in a trial; 98 percent of convictions are obtained through plea bargains. In other words, defendants could be forced to negotiate a plea bargain or prepare for trial without seeing all of the state’s evidence against them. This practice has led to New York being third in the nation in wrongful convictions.

Earlier Pretrial Discovery Benefits NYC Criminal Defense

In response to this unfairness, the New York legislature has enacted reforms that will go into effect statewide in January 2020. Prosecutors will now be required to complete pretrial discovery—the sharing of the state’s evidence—much sooner. Specific reforms include:

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Manhattan Criminal Defense Law Firm

Until recently, a person carrying a gravity knife in New York could be stopped on the street, arrested, and charged with criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree, a class A misdemeanor. As of May 30, 2019, it is no longer a crime to simply be in possession of a gravity knife in the state of New York. Of course, using any knife to intentionally injure another person will still get you charged with the crime of assault, and using a knife to threaten another person can result in a charge of menacing.

What Type of Knife Can I Legally Carry in New York City?

In New York City, you may carry a concealed knife with a blade less than four inches long in most public places. Note, however, that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) broadly forbids possession of weapons including gravity knives and box cutters on NYC subways and buses (21 NYCRR 1050.8a).

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Manhattan Drug Crimes Defense AttorneyThe New York State Police now train drug detection dogs to sniff out cocaine, heroin, LSD, MDMA (ecstasy), methamphetamine, and PCP--but not, since mid-2018, marijuana. Once the state legalizes marijuana possession, which is expected to happen within the next year or so, all drug dogs trained to detect marijuana will be obsolete. Once a dog has been trained to “alert” on a particular drug, that training cannot be reversed.

The Meaning of Probable Cause for a Drug Search

The legal principle at issue is “probable cause.” Police may not lawfully search your person, car, or home without probable cause to believe that they will discover evidence of criminal activity. For example, the police cannot pull your car over for no reason; they must have probable cause that you have committed a crime. If an officer saw you run a red light or clocked you speeding, then they have probable cause to pull you over.

Similarly, if you are stopped for speeding, the police do not have the automatic right to search the trunk of your car for evidence of other offenses such as drug crimes or weapons possession. The police can, however, bring a drug detection dog over to sniff around your car. If the drug “alerts” to the presence of a drug it was trained to detect, that gives the police probable cause to do the search.

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Manhattan Sex Crimes Attorney

Although New York state law does not explicitly use the term “statutory rape,” it does define several categories of sex crimes involving underage victims. In general, individuals younger than age 17 are considered to be legally incapable of consenting to sex with adults who are four to five years older. Depending on the age of the victim, an adult engaging in sexual intercourse with a minor may be charged with rape in the first, second, or third degree. The younger the victim, the more severe the crime and punishment.

New York Statutory Rape Involving Victim Under Age 17

The crime of rape in the third degree occurs when an adult age 21 or older engages in sexual intercourse with a juvenile under the age of 17. For example, a 21-year-old who engages in sex with a 16-year-old could be charged with rape even if the 16-year-old claimed the sex was consensual.

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NY Police Officer Attorney

When a New York City corrections officer is accused of misconduct, you need a lawyer for two reasons: for defense in a civil service disciplinary hearing to protect your job and for defense against criminal charges to protect your freedom. You need to win both cases to return your life to normal, and because the outcome of one will affect the other, a coordinated defense strategy is strongly recommended.

Criminal Charges Affecting NYC Corrections Officers

As an example of criminal charges that NYC COs may face, we will use an actual case reported in May 2019. Six COs are accused of conducting illegal strip searches at the Manhattan Detention Complex. In their defense, more than 50 visitors were arrested in 2018 for bringing in prohibited items such as drugs and razors. However, a similar number of visitors have alleged that they were sexually abused by COs during unlawful strip searches. These searches violated Department of Correction policy which requires written consent prior to a search and then only allows “pat frisk” searches.

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Bronx Drug Possession Attorney

Drug possession is both a state crime (NY PEN §220) and a federal crime (21 U.S.C. 13), but federal penalties tend to be more severe than state penalties for an equivalent offense. In fact, federal laws dictating mandatory minimum prison sentences for drug crimes have been widely criticized for keeping thousands of non-violent drug offenders in prison for excessive periods of time and for having a disproportionate effect on African-Americans. The First Step Act of 2018 has been hailed as a major breakthrough in correcting these issues.

Mandatory Minimum Sentences Biased Against Crack Cocaine

The mandatory sentences for crack cocaine offenses provide a good example of how harsh and racially-biased federal drug sentencing laws can be. Prior to the passage of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, a seller caught with just 50 grams of crack cocaine faced a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 10 years. Even after the passage of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, a seller caught with as little as 280 grams of crack cocaine was subject to a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 10 years for a first-time offender or 20 years to life for a repeat offender. In contrast, a seller would have to be caught with 5,000 grams of powder cocaine to qualify for a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years.

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Brooklyn police discipline defense attorney

In New York, state law NYCL CVR Section 50-a prohibits the release of the personnel records of certain occupations, including corrections officers, firefighters, and EMTs. However, police officers are the occupation most commonly associated with this law, and information about certain types of police disciplinary actions is not disclosable to the public or the media. 

By blocking public disclosure of these records, Section 50-a protects police officers from retaliation by criminals and prevents defense attorneys from using a police officer’s disciplinary record to discredit their testimony in a criminal trial. This law also protects police officers from being publicly vilified on the basis of unverified or unsubstantiated accusations or because of disciplinary actions that are unrelated to the cases they are involved in.

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Queens criminal defense attorney police body cam evidenceIn response to constitutional rights violations committed by officers of the New York City Police Department, a U.S. federal court directed the NYPD to implement a body-worn camera program. As of March 2019, 20,000 uniformed patrol officers now wear body cameras. Civil rights activists have hailed body cams as a valuable tool for holding police officers accountable for their actions on the street and reducing incidents in which citizens claim the police used excessive force. The NYPD expects body cams to “encourage lawful and respectful interactions between the public and the police.”

NYPD Rules for Body Camera Recordings

NYPD regulations for body cam recordings include:

  • Officers must record all responses to a crime in progress, interactions with criminal suspects and emotionally disturbed people, searches, arrests, and uses of force. 
  • Specific situations not to be recorded include strip searches, interviewing of sex crime victims, and conversations with confidential informants. 
  • Officers do not need anyone’s permission to record public interactions. However, officers have been directed to inform you when you are being recorded. When a person asks whether they are being recorded, the officer must answer honestly unless doing so “would compromise the safety of any person or impede an investigation.”
  • The NYPD will keep all recordings for at least 18 months.
  • Recordings related to a criminal case will be turned over to the prosecuting attorney’s office, who must provide the video to the defendant’s attorney along with other evidence as required by criminal discovery laws.
  • Recordings may also be requested by the public through the Freedom of Information Act.
  • Police officers may always view footage of an incident before making any official statement.

A February 2019 ruling by a New York state appeals court has ensured that the public will have access to police body cam recordings. The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association challenged the release of body cam video to the public, arguing that it would violate a New York State privacy law, NYCL CVR section 50-a, that prevents the public release of any police officer’s personnel records except by court order. The court ruled that these recordings do not constitute a personnel record and that they must be released in order to achieve the “transparency, accountability, and public trust-building” objectives of the body-worn camera program.

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NYC criminal defense lawyer prosecutor misconductEveryone has heard about the repercussions of police misconduct, but much less has been done about the problem of misconduct by prosecuting attorneys. When New York police commit a constitutional rights violation, such as unlawful arrest or excessive use of force, the victim can win a large financial settlement in civil court, and the offending police officers can face criminal prosecution for civil rights violations as well as job termination. But what happens when a New York assistant district attorney (ADA) violates someone’s civil rights? The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that prosecutors, including both the individual and their employer, cannot be sued for civil rights violations except in very rare instances. 

Prosecutors Who Commit Illegal Acts Go Largely Unpunished

The New York Times recently described a particularly egregious case of prosecutorial misconduct in which a Suffolk County ADA altered police records to remove exculpatory information on a young man who was being prosecuted for first-degree murder. When this misconduct was discovered, the ADA was fired, and that murder case was dismissed along with five other homicide cases in which the ADA concealed evidence that favored the accused. Was that ADA or his office sued by the victims who were unjustly prosecuted and imprisoned? Was he indicted on criminal charges or at least barred from practicing law? No. He is now a criminal defense lawyer, and his website actually highlights his former employment as a homicide prosecutor.

New York Creates Prosecutorial Misconduct Commission

At present, the powers of New York prosecutors are “virtually unchecked,” according to a New York City Council Member. “The [district attorney] alone decides who to charge and for what … which information to share with the grand jury and which to withhold … who sits [in jail] awaiting trial… and when, if ever, the defense gets access to information critical to the case.”

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