Time and time again, clients have hired us due to false accusations of rape or assault by people they know: an angry ex, a soon to be former wife, a college date feeling remorseful after a night of sex – or just some stalker hoping to extort our client out of some money with the threat of going to the police with a tall tale. Traditionally, we have investigated the cases immediately and gotten the cases tossed out, cases as serious as Assault in the First Degree (New York Penal Law § 120.10) and Rape in the First Degree (New York Penal Law § 130.35), both punishable by up to decades in prison. But lately we have done more than simply get the cases tossed out: we have gone after the accusers both civilly and criminally. In some instances, additionally, we have gotten the accusers arrested before they could even make good on their threat to bring a false accusation to law enforcement if an extortion payment was not made by our client. Such serious, but false, accusations are deeply hurtful, damaging – and potentially life-altering. They require more than fighting off the prosecutor’s criminal charge since the accuser, despite making a false accusation, will otherwise suffer no harm once the case is dismissed. By getting the complainant arrested or sued for damages, you can be sure that your accuser will never be heard from again – which is exactly what you want and need. Continue reading
The Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees the accused the right to effective assistance of counsel. In practice, however, a defendant who wishes to prove that he had incompetent or ineffective counsel at trial does not have an easy road to hoe in convincing the trial judge – or appellate court – to vacate a conviction. As any of the top New York criminal appeals lawyers know, courts do not routinely grant motions for a new trial due to ineffective assistance of counsel as the result puts the defendant back to where he was prior to trial – without a conviction and out of jail. That being said, if your lawyer works hard enough, a conviction after trial can be opened up due to counsel’s poor lawyering, no matter how bad the case is, no matter how long the sentence is – I know because we’ve done it. Continue reading
During just this past year, we have successfully represented a number of women who have been sexually harassed in the workplace – and a number of men criminally accused of sexual assault either in the workplace or in school. In both scenarios, a dominant theme emerged: documenting the assault or harassment is crucial to the success of your case in both the civil and criminal contexts. Because these cases often are boiled down to a “he said/she said” scenario, the existence of indisputable, supporting, documented evidence can make the difference between a huge financial settlement and pennies – and a decades long jail sentence compared to an investigation which does not even result in the filing of criminal charges. Continue reading
The consequences of a conviction for a sex crime in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and elsewhere are staggering and makes sex crime charges (sexual assault, rape, etc.) some of the most difficult to defend due to the collateral penalties which can impact plea negotiations. Beyond potentially lengthy prison sentences and probation, sex crime convictions require defendants to be included on a public sex offender registry; inclusion on this registry will impact where one lives, works and travels potentially for the rest of one’s life. As any of the best New York criminal defense attorneys know, due to the extraordinary collateral consequences of sex crime convictions the best way to avoid them is to either win your case or reach a non-sex crime plea deal. For these reasons, it is imperative to hire the best criminal defense attorney you can possibly find when charged with a sex crime: the choice could alter the rest of your life. Continue reading
If you have been sexually assaulted in New York – whether it be at the hands of a loved one, an acquaintance or a stranger – navigating the New York criminal and civil court systems can be difficult. Considering what you’ve already been through, dealing with red tape and rushed prosecutors does not exactly make your struggle any easier. As the best New York sexual assault victim lawyers know, there are a number of things you need do right away – and other things you need to think about going forward. Continue reading
All too often I receive a call from someone who has been contacted by a detective about an accusation of sexual assault or rape. The detective claims he is just doing his job, that he just wants to speak to the client about these accusations made by (friend, colleague, student) and that perhaps he can clear this whole thing up in an interview. If the client resisted this attempt over the phone, a follow up visit usually occurs. It is human nature when confronted with such an accusation to try to talk one’s way out of the mess; unfortunately, giving in to these entreaties can result in unmitigated disaster. Any of the top criminal defense attorneys in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut or anywhere in the country will agree that these contacts by law enforcement are simply an effort to take what is a very difficult case for the prosecutor to prove – a “he said/she said” scenario with no corroborating witnesses or physical evidence – and turn it into a layup conviction by getting the suspect to confess or make a statement which badly damages any chance for an acquittal down the road. Therefore, if you receive a call or visit by law enforcement about an accusation of sexual assault or rape, do one thing and one thing only: contact the best New York sex offense attorney you can find – and take his advice.
All too often defendants are led to believe by their criminal defense lawyers that getting an acquittal at trial is the ultimate victory, the best possible result for their case. Any of the best criminal lawyers in New York that I know, however, will agree with me that going to trial should be the last resort because even a trial win can result in horrible damage to the client’s life. It is the defense attorney’s job, therefore, to win the case before it gets to trial, before the damage is done. The competent defense lawyer needs to handle the case as if he’s going to trial, developing evidence which can prove his client’s innocence – or destroy the accuser’s credibility. If your defense attorney has the reputation of being a strong trial attorney who actually wins cases, when the presentation is made to the prosecutor with this developed evidence/impeachment material, the prosecutor often folds, thinking a low plea offer or dismissal is better than a humiliating public acquittal. To illustrate my point I’ll take a look at a painfully horrible trial in the news right now: the rape trial of Dan Nelson, the Manhattan attorney accused of rape who has alternately claimed that a) the accuser was too fat to be raped; and b) his Erectile Dysfunction made it impossible for him to even have sex with the accuser, let alone rape her. Continue reading
(In my prior post, I discussed the evidence against Bill Cosby in his case, the reason despite 50 or so claims of rape he could only be charged in this single criminal case, and the weakness of the state’s case.)
Prior Bad Act Evidence
The prosecutor surely knows that his case is weak – which is why he will desperately try to get into evidence as many of the other 50 or so alleged victims who claim they were sexually assaulted by Cosby in the same manner. And this is where the case will be won or lost: should the judge permit prior evidence of similar bad acts – accusers who will testify that they were also invited to Cosby’s home under the cloak of his offer of being a mentor and then unwittingly drugged – the accuser in the criminal case will have her credibility massively bolstered. However, this will cause a circus inside that courtroom as it will be the tail (the uncharged alleged criminal acts) which wags the dog (the sole criminal charge) and there will be numerous trials within this trial as each accuser’s story and her background becoming its own main event. It is for this reason — that the “probative value of the evidence outweighs its potential for unfair prejudice” (Pa. R.E. 404(b)(2)) — that the Cosby trial judge can decide to bar this additional evidence. Frankly, it is a tossup as to what the judge will do in the case: he may even allow just a few of the prior rape allegations into evidence in an effort to stave off public pressure and split the proverbial baby in half. Just a few admitted prior allegations of rape may be enough to sink Cosby.
After facing allegations of sexual assault from dozens of women, fending off lawsuits for months, Bill Cosby was finally criminally charged with Aggravated Indecent Assault in Montgomery County, PA. If convicted, Cosby faces up to 10 years in prison but a conviction will surely ride not so much on the evidence in the Pennsylvania case – but the evidence of the dozens of other allegations of similar sexual assaults perpetrated by Cosby over the years. The problem for the prosecution, however, is that such evidence may not be admitted, rendering the present case weak, at best. Continue reading
At the Law Offices of Jeffrey Lichtman we represent students at universities all over the country including New York universities Columbia University, NYU, and Fordham for both criminal charges and university-related disciplinary proceedings. We have also represented students across the country in campus-related criminal cases including in Alabama, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, New Jersey and North Carolina. These charges include Narcotics cases, Sex crimes and other crimes of violence. The question often asked is ‘why hire a top New York criminal defense attorney for an arrest at a college or university?’ The answer is that the stakes are much higher these days for campus-related misconduct and criminal charges: in today’s zero tolerance society, an accusation against a student could lead to suspension or even expulsion from the university and students and their parents often want the best criminal lawyer available in order to ensure that the student’s future isn’t destroyed – before it even starts. And the best criminal lawyer for crimes occurring on college campus is the best defense attorney for crimes occurring anywhere: just because the case stems from conduct occurring on a college campus does not mean that the potential jail sentence is reduced. Continue reading