New York City public school teachers, just like members of any profession, are not immune from arrests, Desk Appearance Tickets (often called NY DATs), indictments or convictions for crimes set forth in the New York Penal Law. In New York City – Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx – the Department of Education dictates certain types of crimes that can devastate or end the career of a teacher whether that offense stems from a misdemeanor DAT or a felony arrest. As such, the New York City Department of Education requires the reporting of these arrests. Whether or not you ultimately seek the guidance or representation of a New York criminal lawyer or defense attorney at your arraignment, it is critical to understand what you may face in the criminal court as well as in the classroom.
Briefly, and before discussing the reporting requirements for teachers arrested in NYC as mandated by the NYC Department of Education, there are five common misdemeanor crimes that the criminal defense attorneys at Saland Law PC have either prosecuted as Assistant District Attorneys in Manhattan or defended as criminal lawyers. In no way, however, is this an exhaustive list. These crimes are shoplifting pursuant to Petit Larceny (NY PL 155.25) or Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Fourth Degree (NY PL 165.40), Theft of Services (New York Penal Law 165.15), Assault in the Third Degree (NY PL 120.00) and Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Seventh Degree (NY PL 220.03). Because this blog is dedicated to theft and larceny crimes in New York, the latter two offenses will not be addressed here (extensive information on these crimes is available on our sister blog and website at New-York-Lawyers.org as well as NewYorkCriminalLawyerBlog.Com).
Generally, one is guilty of of Theft of Services, NY PL 165.15, when one utilizes a service from a cab or restaurant, for example, and intentionally does not pay the bill for that service. The shoplifting crimes of Petit Larceny (sometimes called “Petty Larceny”) and Fourth Degree Criminal Possession of Stolen Property occur when one intentionally takes property from an owner with the intent to benefit oneself (or withhold it from the owner) or possesses that stolen property with the same intent. All three of these theft and larceny crimes – NY PL 155.25, NY PL 165.40 and NY PL 165.15 – are “A” misdemeanors punishable by no more than one year in jail.
While spending time on Rikers Island is extremely atypical for a first or even second time offender, the reality for a teacher or any other public school employee in New York who is arrested and / or issued a Desk Appearance Ticket for a New York City theft crime is that there are collateral consequences. It is not so much the jail issue, but what will happen to a teacher’s license, employment, certification, etc.?
As a preliminary matter, the New York City Department of Education mandates that a teacher arrested (that includes being given a DAT) must report their arrest as follows:
“Any person employed by or in the Department of Education, or employed by a Department of Education employee to provide services in Department facilities (i.e., custodial helper) who has been arrested and charged with a felony, misdemeanor or violation must immediately notify the OPI and his/her building or office supervisor in writing and provide a copy of the criminal court complaint. Notification to a supervisor alone does not satisfy this reporting requirement. OPI must be notified separately in writing. Custodial helpers must agree in writing to comply with the terms of this regulation as a condition of eligibility for employment with a Department custodian. Failure to notify should be the subject of appropriate disciplinary action.” (New York City Department of Education Regulation of the Chancellor issued 2/11/03 )
Failure to abide by the above rule may compromise a teacher’s ability to work within the Department of Education whether that means suspension or termination of employment. This may be true even if the arrest is ultimately unfounded.
Keep in mind that this blog entry only briefly discusses the reporting requirements for a teacher who is arrested in New York. It is not a substitute for a consultation with your own criminal lawyer. In fact, the Regulation of the Chancellor is dated 2/11/03 and may be subject to change and as such you should confirm its accuracy as new regulations routinely are issued.
Although this blog addresses actions you should take upon your arrest as a teacher, this entry does not address the potential offers at your arraignment. While you may be offered a Disorderly Conduct (NY PL 240.20) or an Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal (often called an “ACD”) at your arraignment for a Petit Larceny, Criminal Possession of Stolen Property or Theft of Services, what are the differences?. Certainly, before agreeing to either type of non-criminal disposition – an ACD or Disorderly Conduct – it is important to be fully aware of the associated problems, benefits and long term consequences between these resolutions as well (a very brief analysis can be found on the NewYorkCriminalLawyerBlog.Com). For example, is it possible that a Disorderly Conduct plea will show up years later even if it is not a criminal conviction? What will happen to your record while an ACD is pending?
Consult with your criminal attorney and review the applicable laws, statutes and regulations associated with the arrests of NYC Department of Education employees. Arming yourself with knowledge may be your best defense in protecting your future.
Saland Law PC is a New York criminal defense firm representing clients in all criminal matters throughout the New York City area. Extensive Information on the crimes listed above as well as Desk Appearance Tickets can be found through the related links or by searching the websites and blogs below.