In New York and other states, the opioid crisis is being cited as a contributing factor in a growing number of drug-related crimes, including some that result in overdose deaths. However, a recent situation involving a woman who purchased heroin for a neighbor illustrates another trend with drug crimes -- bystanders becoming criminal defendants. In this instance, the neighbor died of a fatal overdose from the heroin the woman purchased at his request. It turned out to be laced with another powerful opioid drug, fentanyl.
A portion of prisoners in New York live behind bars for crimes that they did not commit. The number that experienced wrongful convictions is difficult to know, but research studies have indicated that as many as 6 percent of inmates do not deserve to be locked up. The development of DNA testing technology has shown that between 3 and 5 percent of people held for murder or rape were not guilty. More recently, university researchers surveyed a prison population of almost 3,000 people to explore the possibility of wrongful convictions on lesser crimes like armed robbery, theft or drug possession.
Fentanyl is a synthetic narcotic that black market drug dealers have been adding to heroin and cocaine supplies according to a statement from a special narcotics prosecutor in New York City. An investigation led by the Queens Narcotics Major Case Squad confirmed this trend when it arrested a suspected drug trafficker and found large amounts of fentanyl valued at $10 million in his car.
Similar to federal law, the New York Penal Law imposes lengthy prison sentences on those convicted of kidnapping. The law classifies first-degree kidnapping as an A-I felony. A convicted person cannot avoid imprisonment and will likely face a sentence between five and 25 years although a life term remains possible. A court could also demand that the convicted felon pay a hefty fine.
Prosecutors in New York accused 27 men of being involved in a Russian organized crime syndicate in two criminal complaints filed in Manhattan on June 14. The men are accused of committing crimes in various parts of the United States on behalf of a 40-year-old New Jersey man who prosecutors say is a leading underworld figure. Most of the men, who range from 22 to 59 years of age, reside in Brooklyn according to reports.
It may surprise our readers to learn that virtually no state is as tough on juveniles accused of a crime as New York. We are one of just two states to automatically charge 16- and 17-year-olds as adults in every case.
Two men in New York are facing charges related to the death of a 26-year-old man. The accused 25- and 28-year-old were arraigned on Nov. 17 for charges of concealment of a human corpse, hindering prosecution in the first degree and damaging physical evidence. Felony charges for second-degree murder were not filed during the arraignment as originally expected.
A report that looked at drug charges in New York, Texas, Florida and Louisiana is disturbing and points to the need for considering decriminalization of drug possession. It was released on Oct. 12 by the Human Rights Commission and the American Civil Liberties Union.
One year after a legal aide to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was shot and killed in Brooklyn, a fifth suspect has been indicted by a grand jury. The 31-year-old accused gang member was taken into custody in California and then extradited to New York on Sept. 10. He now faces charges of second-degree murder and a sentence of 25 years to life if convicted.
In January 2016, the National Incident-based Reporting System, or NIBRS, began tracking instances of animal cruelty. The database monitors incidents such as gross neglect, torture and sexual abuse. Previously, instances of animal cruelty were classified under all other crimes in the FBI's "Crime in the United States" report. There are several reasons why the decision was made to keep tabs on animal abuse in the same way arson, burglary and other felonies are tracked.