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New York Legal Blog

Understanding the various impaired driving charges

If you're dealing with a DWI charge (or a loved one is) here in New York, you may wonder what the difference is between DWI and DUI. The latter, which means "driving under the influence," is perhaps the more commonly used term around the county.

However, laws involving driving while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs vary by state, as do the names. Therefore, if you're arrested somewhere else in the Northeast or anywhere else in the U.S., you may find yourself facing different charges. All are serious, however, and can involve significant consequences.

Multiple sex abuse lawsuits filed against Boy Scouts in New York

Among the victims of child sex abuse who are hoping to finally get some justice thanks to New York's Child Victims Act are former Boy Scouts. As soon as the law took effect last month, attorneys began filing suits on behalf of men who say they were assaulted by scout leaders as well as more senior scouts and others involved in the organization when they were boys.

Among the first to take legal action were eight plaintiffs who had lived in Erie and Albany counties. Some say they were just 11 years old when they were first molested as Boy Scouts.

New York's Child Victims Act and Epstein's accusers

The women who accused the late financier Jeffrey Epstein of rape, sexual abuse and related crimes won't get to see the alleged sex trafficker go to trial in New York after he took his own life in jail last month. However, some are attempting to get justice in the only way they can -- by suing his estate. That estate is valued at a minimum of $577 million, according to a will he signed just days before his death.

Thanks to New York's new Child Victims Act, which temporarily rescinds the statute of limitations on child sex abuse lawsuits, more suits against the estate are expected in the coming months. Epstein pleaded not guilty to all criminal charges against him, some of which involved girls in their early teens.

Complaints of NYPD chokehold use continue despite 1993 ban

It's been just over five years since the death of Eric Garner as he was being arrested for selling loose cigarettes in Staten Island. This month, the New York Police Department (NYPD) fired the officer who placed him in a chokehold as he and fellow NYPD officers held him on the ground. Garner's exclamation, "I can't breathe" became a rallying cry for people across the country protesting excessive force by law enforcement officers.

According to the NYPD, the officer, who was never indicted on criminal charges, was using a procedure that was prohibited in 1993 under Commissioner Ray Kelly. However, there's considerable evidence that chokeholds have been used on multiple occasions during the ensuing years.

An attacker is apprehended after stabbing 2 on the A train

A 40-year-old man stabbed one fellow A train rider and a bystander who rushed to help him in lower Manhattan on July 30. The incident happened at the downtown W. 4th St. station just before 7:30 p.m. The attacker then led police on a chase through downtown before they ultimately apprehended him.

According to police, the assailant was seated on the A train with his backpack in an adjoining seat when his first victim approached him. The 55-year-old man requested that he move his bag so that he could have a seat next to him. When he refused to do so, the older gentleman picked it up himself.

What are your rights if police want to enter your home?

With all of the talk of impending raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), groups like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) are making sure that people who may be the targets of these raids know their rights if ICE agents show up at their door. However, how many people know their rights if any law enforcement officer comes to their home?

It's easy to be frightened and intimidated by uniformed officers demanding -- or even asking -- to come in. However, it's essential to remember that you have rights. You just have to know how to assert them in a way that doesn't endanger your (or anyone's) safety or create more legal problems than you may already have.

What New Yorkers should know about the Child Victims Act

In approximately six weeks (on Aug. 15), New York's Child Victims Act will take effect -- just months after being signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The purpose of the law is to deal with our state's statutes of limitations on civil and criminal legal accountability for these crimes -- which are among the most restrictive in the country. Let's take a look at what this law means for survivors of child sex abuse.

The Child Victims Act first provides a one-year window (beginning Aug. 15) that allows child sex abuse survivors to file a lawsuit against their alleged perpetrator as well as any institution (such as a church or school) that knew about the perpetrator's actions and helped cover them up and/or did nothing to stop them. During this window, there will be no restrictions regarding when the abuse occurred or how old the survivor is currently.

Church sex abuse case sad, instructive on several levels

"To this day, and every day that I am alive, I feel haunted."

So says a New York resident now in his 40s regarding his enduring trauma over repeated rapes and other sexual assaults he says a Catholic priest inflicted upon him in his youth.

As New York reduces marijuana prosecutions, arrests continue

As the push to legalize recreational marijuana gains traction in New York, with help from Gov. Andrew Cuomo, several prosecutors throughout the state have announced that they'll no longer prosecute low-level marijuana possession cases. Things like smoking or burning marijuana in public are now considered violations instead of misdemeanors. That means they won't give someone a criminal record that can impact their chances of getting a job or housing.

However, these changes haven't stopped state and local police from arresting people -- some more than others -- on these charges. In Westchester County, 163 people were arrested in the first quarter of this year, even though the DA announced the changes in his office in mid-January. Most of those arrested were black or Hispanic, and most of the arrests were in Yonkers.

Boy Scout sex abuse victims have rights

The future of the 109-year-old Boy Scouts of America (BSA) organization may be in jeopardy. The uptick in sexual assault lawsuits against them in recent years may be to blame for its ultimate demise.

Financial statements released by the BSA organization in recent years have revealed that the funds that would have allowed them to remain afloat are quickly dwindling. In fact, their financial resources are so limited at this point that the organization has considered filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

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