Health care, and issues surrounding the same, is discussed almost daily on the radio, television and internet. Simply, health care is a daily part of our lives in both the political and literal sense. While we may know about “Obama Care,” attempts to repeal the Affordable Health Care Act, Medicare, Medicaid, and different health insurance options, New York criminal lawyers often hear about or deal with health care issues in a completely different context. What is that you ask? Because of the prevalent fraud that is perpetrated to and in the health care system, District Attorneys and the New York State Attorney General actively investigate and prosecute individuals and groups of people from pharmacists and physicians to patients and office staff, for violating a Health Care Fraud pursuant to New York Penal Law Article 177. Depending on the amount of the theft from a health plan over a one year period, exposure to incarceration is not merely a legitimate concern, but a potential reality whether a person is arrested for First Degree Heath Care Fraud, Fifth Degree Health Care Fraud or crime in between.
Petit Larceny is a misdemeanor not a felony, right? After all, New York wouldn’t call New York Penal Law 155.25 “Petty Larceny” if it was a felony crime. Even if you look at New York’s Larceny statutes in New York Penal Law Article 155.00, Petit Larceny, codified as NY PL 155.25, doesn’t have any degree where other theft offenses often have degrees. For that matter, it seems to make sense if Grand Larceny is a felony, then Petit Larceny is a misdemeanor.
Thefts and larcenies in New York can take many different forms. New York State Penal Law 155.05 provides the various theories on which a criminal prosecution for larceny can be based. The distinctions between these various kinds of theft can be subtle, but identifying those distinctions can have an enormous impact on a criminal case. Two of these sub-types of larceny are commonly referred to as Larceny by False Pretense and Larceny by False Promise, which seem almost identical by their title, but describe two significantly different circumstances and allegations.
The New York Martin Act, New York General Business Law Section 352 and 352-C, is a state statute in New York that provides for civil and criminal penalties for securities fraud. The Martin Act is analogous to federal and other state securities fraud statutes, with certain key differences. One of those key differences is that the Martin Act does not require proof of an intent to defraud, or proof of intent to deceive or mislead, in order to charge and convict a person of a crime under the statute, punishable by up to one year in jail. However, if such intent is established, the charges under the Martin Act can be elevated to a felony punishable by state prison time.
This lack of an intent to defraud requirement becomes especially relevant where the Martin Act charges are based on non-disclosure. Generally speaking, it is much more difficult for a prosecutor to prove that a person had the intent to mislead an investor by not providing information that it is to prove that intent based on affirmatively providing false information. Doing away with any requirement that an intent to deceive be alleged or proven removes this hurdle from a prosecutor’s path to conviction. The following touches on this non-disclosure issue.
It is difficult for many people to imagine being convicted of Petit Larceny, PL 155.25, for stealing items from a department store without ever leaving that store. “How can you prove I was going to steal anything if I’m still inside the store?” You can’t give me a Desk Appearance Ticket for PL 165.40. I never left Century 21 or Sephora! However, protests aside, under the law of the State of New York, not only can a person be convicted of Petit Larceny or Criminal Possession of Stolen Property without ever leaving the store, a person can potentially be convicted of that crime without ever taking the item off the shelf. As strange and illegal as this may seem, a criminal defense attorney and NYC shoplifting lawyer should easily be able to explain how the law allows for such an arrest.
In New York, a court may impose restitution as a component of sentence, in addition to the more commonly understood penalties of jail time, community service, orders of protection, and so on. Section 60.27 of the New York State Penal Law permits a sentencing court to order restitution to the victim of the crime in addition to any other dispositions authorized by statute, meaning it can be tacked on to any other type of sentence. Restitution on criminal charges may not include sums for pain and suffering or liquidated damages, as in civil cases, and it may not be greater than what is necessary to compensate the victim of a crime for out-of-pocket losses. All of this can be a part of a disposition or plea involving Grand Larceny and Criminal Possession of Stolen Property crimes and, as such, it is something that you and your criminal defense lawyer should work through before resolving your case.
The criminal charge of Scheme to Defraud in New York often arises in the context of intricate and large-scale thefts. As such, there is typically a Grand Larceny or other theft-related offense accompanying the Scheme to Defraud charge on a felony complaint or indictment. While it is tempting to see this overlap and view a Scheme to Defraud charge as just another form of larceny, doing so can have disastrous consequences for any criminal defense. Scheme to Defraud is quite clearly a distinct charge, with its own unique nuances, related statutory rules, and methods of proof that you must fully address with you or criminal defense attorney. One such issue is the idea of “moral certainty” in the context of either an NY PL 190.65 or NY PL 190.60 arrest.
Identity Theft is an issue that affects more and more people in New York and the country every year. In this digital age, criminal charges relating to Identity Theft can become extremely complex and difficult to analyze. For example, can a person unlawfully “possess” someone’s credit card number without actually possessing the card itself? Is a person unlawfully assuming another person’s identity when they use a stolen credit card number? In New York, the answer to these questions was given in People v. Barden, 117 A.D.3d 216 (1st Dept. 2014) as “yes” and “no” respectively.
Financial crimes such as New York Scheme to Defraud and charges under the New York Martin Act are notoriously complex and difficult to understand and interpret. This complexity only becomes more significant when there are, as is typically the case with such criminal charges, hundreds of thousands of pieces of documentary evidence. In those circumstances, it is easy for prosecutors to make glaring oversights or unintentionally misrepresent the facts, and just as easy for criminal defense attorneys to let those negligent misdeeds go unnoticed. The question then becomes, “How does the Court deal with these prosecutorial errors when they become apparent.” This was exactly the question faced by by the New York County Supreme Court, Criminal Term in People v. Thompson, et al., 2016 NY Slip Op 50777(U) (N.Y. Co. Sup. 2016).
In Thompson, a white-collar criminal case involving a penny stock pump-and-dump scheme, the prosecutor presented numerous documents to the Grand Jury to obtain an indictment, including marketing emails to potential investors. Importantly, the prosecutor omitted highly relevant disclaimers that the defendants had included in those promotional emails, which were highly exculpatory with regard to the defendant’s intent. The Court found that the prosecutor should clearly have included the entire contents of those emails. While prosecutors are not generally obligated to to present all, or even any, evidence that is favorable to an accused person to the Grand Jury, the Court held that the prosecutor does have a duty of fairness to the accused which should prevent them from selectively omitting critical portions of a document that they are already presenting to the Grand Jury.
However, the Court in Thompson then gave the answer to the question above, which was that the indictment should still not be dismissed because, in this particular case, the Court did not believe that the prosecutor deliberately misled the Grand Jury, and those particular documents were just some of many that were presented, and not a critical part of the Grand Jury presentation.
In New York, in order to be charged and convicted of a theft-related crime, it generally must be alleged that the defendant stole the property from an “owner” of that property. In other words, you can’t steal property from someone who doesn’t own that property, and you can’t steal property that rightfully belongs to you. This makes all the sense in the world, and doesn’t seem like it could ever lead to any ambiguity. However, it often does, particularly in the context of family and other close personal relationships. This entry will address when the “ownership” threshold is satisfied for the NYPD, other police officers or any branch of law enforcement to make an arrest and the respective District Attorney have sufficient evidence to prosecute the crime of either Petit Larceny, New York Penal Law 155.25, or any degree of Grand Larceny.