The other day a potential client came to see me about his federal criminal case in New York. During our discussion, he wondered if there was any real benefit of hiring an attorney who was heavily experienced in the federal system or would any smart and hard-working lawyer do? He had found an attorney online who seemed to be very smart but had just left the District Attorney’s office three years ago to become a defense attorney. In this entry, I will answer this question by providing an example of how hiring a top New York federal criminal attorney can change your case – and your life.
A criminal defendant charged with Homicide is in a bad enough situation to begin with – but charged in a high profile case with public pressure for jail time only exacerbates a tough case. Such was the case with a client of ours, a builder, who was tasked with the construction of a commercial project in Staten Island. According to the allegations, a wind-blown, 60 foot high cinderblock wall toppled over in 2009 killing the construction foreman: prosecutors claimed the wall was built too high and without the proper reinforcement or inspections. In addition, on the day of the accident, the New York City Buildings Department had issued a dangerous wind advisory. Bad luck, shoddy construction work, whatever the case was – an innocent man was killed in a gruesome manner. After a two year investigation, our client and his subcontractor were criminally charged with Homicide in Staten Island. Continue reading
Khari Noerdlinger appeared before Judge Frances McGrogan yesterday in Bergen County Superior Court for his arraignment on Aggravated Manslaughter and related charges resulting from the death of an individual who, along with four other people, drove down to Edgewater, New Jersey from Rockland County, New York, armed with a baseball bat and other deadly weapons, with the sole purpose of assaulting and robbing Khari. It was during this attack by these individuals that Khari, knocked to the ground and being kicked, punched and beaten with the deadly weapons, used a knife and in a desperate attempt to save his own life stabbed the individual on top of him in the thigh. According to the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, the individual’s femoral artery was cut which ultimately caused his death. Khari is represented by top New York criminal defense attorney Jeffrey Lichtman and a trial is expected in this case – a trial in which Khari’s use of self-defense to save his own life from an attack by multiple, armed, violent gang members will take center stage. Continue reading
The vast majority of prosecutions, both state and federal, end in negotiated guilty pleas. In the federal system, for example, only 3% of all criminal cases result in a jury trial – the other 97% are resolved through plea bargaining. Despite the great likelihood of a guilty plea in every prosecution, some cases cannot end in a plea as the prosecutor’s offer is simply too high: a conviction after trial may result in a sentence not far off from the plea offer. And in other cases, the offers are higher than the client and his lawyer believe is appropriate considering the evidence, thus requiring trial preparation. But if you hire a top criminal defense attorney to represent you, his trial preparation will be so extensive that a byproduct of the hard work very well may be the lowering of the prosecutor’s plea offers, from unreasonable to good to great. While the average lawyer figures that the case which starts with a lousy plea offer will still ultimately plead out – and he treats the case that way – some of the best New York criminal lawyers work the case hard enough to ensure that the best possible result occurs: either an acquittal after trial or a very low plea offer.
Khari Noerdlinger, the son of Rachel Noerdlinger, the former chief of staff to New York City’s First lady, Chirlane McCray, was charged last week in Bergen County, New Jersey with aggravated manslaughter, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose and hindering apprehension after he allegedly stabbed to death a 16 year old who, along with a few others, was robbing Noerdlinger at the time. As this case hit the front page of the New York City tabloids, Jeffrey Lichtman argued to the court that the $500,000 bail was excessive because Khari was not only no flight risk but that he had a strong affirmative defense: Khari, under attack, defended himself lawfully when his attacker was killed. The judge agreed and bail was reduced to $300,000, just a few days after initially being set, and Khari was released from jail soon thereafter.
Some very tough cases can be “won” even if a client takes a guilty plea if the desired result is achieved: no prison time and, sometimes, even no criminal record. Some subtle lawyering is needed to achieve such results but we’ve managed to do this regularly. Many experienced New York criminal attorneys will spend the time required to learn enough about their clients’ personal history, plumbing it for potential opportunities to convince a prosecutor or a judge that a criminal conviction or incarceration is not necessary. Continue reading
Being charged with assault, murder or attempted murder in New York, Brooklyn, Queens, Connecticut, New Jersey or in federal courts all over the country does not mean your life is over – far from it. Just because the penalties for such crimes can be extreme does not mean that a top criminal lawyer cannot achieve a great result with an acquittal after trial, a dismissal of the charges or a non-custodial plea deal. The best defense attorneys all over the country know that in order to achieve such a result a massive effort needs to be made investigating both the crime and the witnesses. Armed with the fruits of that investigation, a strong cross-examiner can destroy a witness’s story and reveal to the jury biases and motives to lie. As the witness falls apart on the stand so does the case against the defendant.
We have had tremendous documented success in federal assault, conspiracy to murder and murder cases, RICO, as well as in state assault, attempted murder and murder cases. We don’t just get hired on serious cases like this which are often in the media — we win them. Continue reading