November 4, 2010
Last month, Suffolk County became a leader in animal abuse protection. Suffolk County legislators passed a law calling for the nation’s first animal abuse registry. The law requires those convicted of abusing animals to register their name, address, and a photograph with the registry. Sensitive to the concerns about the cost of maintaining such a registry, the legislation also required that each offender must pay an annual fee of $50 for the five years they are required to register with the database. Additionally, the database will not be run by Suffolk County, but by the Suffolk County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. If a convicted abuser fails to register, they will face either jail time or a significant fine of $1,000.
MEGAN’S LAW FOR ABUSEDANIMALS
The registration of convicted criminals is nothing new. Megan’s Laws, designed to assure the authorities and public of the whereabouts of convicted sex offenders, have been in effect for years. The animal abuse registry is designed to have a similar effect. The list of abusers will be open to the public, so that pet owners and neighbors may know who, within their community, is potentially a threat to their companion animals.
The motivation for the law’s passage is really two fold. First, Suffolk County has been home to a number of horrid animal abuse cases within the past year. Most notably, a Selden woman who tortured, killed and buried kittens, cats, and dogs in her backyard made national headlines as her heinous acts were finally halted after her children reported her to the authorities. The second motivation for the bill’s passage, was articulated best by the registry’s champion, Suffolk County legislator Jon Cooper. Cooper told reporters, “[w]e know there is a very strong correlation between animal abuse and domestic violence… Almost every serial killer starts out by torturing animals.” Cooper observations have long been known to those working within the field of animal abuse and domestic violence.
A New Jersey study found that 88% of families with children that had experienced physical abuse, also recorded incidents of animal abuse within the home. Also, it is estimated that 88% of pets living in households with domestic abuse are either abused or killed. The link between animal abuse and serial killers is also very real. Studies have showcased that the vast majority of convicted serial murders have had a history of animal abuse. This list includes people such as the Son of Sam killer David Berkowitz, Jeffrey Dahmer, and the Boston Strangler Albert DeSalvo.
The idea for the registry was nothing new. In fact, the registry has been or is currently being considered in a number of states and counties, including California, Minnesota and New York State. The registry is the brainchild of Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), an organization dedicated to protecting the lives and advancing the interests of animals through the legal system. ALDF’s hope is that, as with the proliferation of Megan’s Law a decade ago, Suffolk County’s passage of the animal abuse registry will translate into the passage of similar laws throughout the nation.
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June 23, 2010
Wills, revocable trusts, and irrevocable trusts are all estate planning devices. Revocable trusts are a type of trust that can be changed, modified, or revoked at anytime. This type of trust allows you to change your mind with regard to all aspects of the terms of the trust. These trusts are very flexible.
Uses of a revocable trust:
1. Revocable living trusts avoid probate. The assets in the trust at the time of the death of the individual who made the trust pass directly to the beneficiary. The trust does not have to be probated.
2. It is private document. Wills need to be probated. This opens up the terms of the will to review by a court. Once the will is filed with the courts it becomes a public document and other individuals can obtain copies of the will. An example is Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’s will in Manhattan. So many people wanted to see it that it was displayed to the public mounted it under plexiglass. The details of your assets and the individuals who receive your assets remain a private matter.
3. It establishes a plan that deals with mental disabilities such as Alzheimer’s disease and other mental illnesses that effect seniors. When you place assets in a revocable trust and the person who created the trust becomes disabled, the trustee or alternate trustee supervises the trust and distribution of the assets therein. If you do not have this type of trust or a power of attorney, it becomes necessary for your loved ones or next of kin to bring a guardianship proceeding under article 81 of the New York Mental Hygiene Law to appoint a guardian for you.
June 17, 2010
A property owner has an obligation to make sure that staircases are maintained in a safe condition. It is also the property owner’s obligation to see to it that the staircases do not fall into disrepair. Most injuries on staircases are caused when an individual slips, and falls or trips.
Staircases should be clearly marked. Changes in floor surface, modifications in decorations, or even changes in the handrails are ways that people who are walking on stairs are alerted to potential problems. Staircases that are visually confusing or feature distractions, changes in the height or depth of the stairs, or material on the stairs that makes them slippery create potentially dangerous situations. Staircase should be appropriately lit and made with nonslip surfaces.
In the event you, a friend or a loved one trips and falls on a staircase, recovery for the injuries may be possible. Email or call the New York and Long Island slip and fall lawyers at the Law Offices of Elliot Schlissel for a free consultation at 1-800-344-6431.
June 15, 2010
Work place injuries are quite common. They may result in serious injuries and even death. In the event you receive injuries related the your employment, you maybe entitled to compensation for your injuries. If your employer is responsible, workers compensation could provide you with financial remuneration for your injuries. In the event there are other individuals, companies, or circumstances involved you may be able to bring a personal injury lawsuit.
In addition to physical injuries you may suffer psychological and/or emotional injuries for which you may be entitled recovery. In the event an injury leads to your death, your family could be entitled to recovery.
Some injuries can cause permanent disability. Other types of injuries only cause what are known as partial disabilities. A partial disability or impairment may result in your having difficulty performing some aspects of your job. If you receive an injury related to your employment it is very important that you contact experienced knowledgeable attorneys to protect your rights. The New York and Long Island accident attorneys at the Law Office at Elliot Schlissel are here to help you 24/7. Contact us for a free consultation at 1-800-344-6431 or email us.
June 10, 2010
Governor David Patterson has established a juvenile justice task force authorized to investigate circumstances and procedures for sentencing juveniles in the State of New York. The task force has suggested that New York should stop sentencing low risk juvenile offenders to facilities far from their family residences. The task force has suggested in the alternative that they be sent to lower cost community based programs.
The community based programs would closely monitor the juveniles. They would establish mentoring programs for these children. There would be curfew checks, review of school performances and detailed after school programs to keep them busy. The study has shown that low risk juveniles who have been placed in similar programs can be rehabilitated without the need for institutionalization.
The task force recommendations are excellent. However, the State of New York will not be carrying them out. The budget submitted by Governor Patterson does not contain funds or programs that would encourage localities to develop the recommended community based alternative programs.
Under the current system, New York State reimburses localities for about half the cost of operating pretrial detention programs for juveniles. These costs can be as high as $200,000 per child, per year, to incarcerate a juvenile in a large institution. Presently the state has no program to reimburse localities for community based programs. These programs can cost as little as $5,000 per year.
Senator Velmanette Montgomery, a democrat from Brooklyn has proposed a bill in the State Senate to set aside $12 million to encourage programs for juvenile criminal offenders. These bill is a step in the right direction. Hopefully the legislature of the State of New York will approve it.
June 8, 2010
Miranda warnings given to individuals arrested in th United States are given based upon the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Miranda v. Arizona. The Miranda warnings require the police officer, FBI agent or other governmental arresting officer to advise the arrestee that anything they say or do could be held against them, that they have a right to an attorney and if they cannot afford an attorney, an attorney will be appointed for them.
President Obama is considering supporting a law that would either delay or eliminate the Constitutional Miranda warnings when dealing with individuals charged with terrorism. Constitutional attorneys and former prosecutors have discussed a terrorism exception with regard to giving Miranda warnings to individuals arrested for terrorist acts. They suggest a terrorism exception could last up to 48 hours before the Miranda warnings would have to given to the suspect. There has also been a discussion of a statue authorizing emergency detention of individuals suspected of having committed terrorist attacks.
The United States is currently the only country in the world that gives individuals suspected of being charged with crimes various warnings to protect themselves from making statements that could be used against them at trial.
I personally believe that the Miranda warnings are important protections for individuals suspected of committing crimes. However, a 48 hour exception to the Miranda rule should be carved out for suspects charged with terrorist acts. We live in a world in which terrorists seek to take away the basic freedoms that we have fought so hard to protect. This minor exception to the Miranda rule in certain circumstances maybe necessary to protect the lives of Americans against catastrophic terrorist attacks.
June 2, 2010
When can police officers search a vehicle? When they are arresting the occupant of the vehicle. In 1981, the United States Supreme Court in the case of New York v. Belton, 453 U.S. 454, stated “when a policeman has made a lawful custodial arrest of the occupant of an automobile, he may as a contemporaneous incident of that arrest, search the passengers compartment of that automobile and any containers therein.” The court rendered this decision based upon a “generalization that articles inside the relatively narrow passenger compartment of an automobile are in fact generally within the area in to which an arrestee might reach in order to grab a weapon or evidentiary item.” Fran Simmel v. California 395 U.S. 763.
In a decision of April 2009, the United States Supreme Court in the case of Arizona v. Grant narrowed the circumstances under which there can be a search incident to arrest. In the Grant decision the United States Supreme Court stated that police may now search a vehicle incident to the arrest of the occupant of the vehicle only if the person being arrested is “unsecured and within reaching distance of the passenger compartment at the time of the search” or “it is reasonable to believe the (the passenger compartment) contains evidence of the arrest.”
The court stated in this decision “when the justifications are absent, a search of the arrestee’s vehicle will be unreasonable unless police obtain a warrant or show that another exception to the warrant requirement applies.”
In the a situation where the police arrest an individual driving a vehicle, place him custody, in hand cuffs and remove him from the vehicle and place him in the squad car there would be no reason for the police to engage in a warrantless search of the occupants vehicle unless a crime was committed involving contraband or a gun and police were searching for the contraband or gun.
Unfortunately this decision has not filtered down to most police organizations. Police routinely search vehicles when they put an occupant under arrest without justification. The prosecutors then seek to use any evidence obtained from said searches in the prosecution of the driver or other occupant of the vehicle. Based on this new United States Supreme Court decision, motions can be made to preclude the entry into evidence of material obtained through improper searches. If you or a friend or family member have been arrested and a vehicle was improperly searched feel free to give our office a call at 1-800-344-6431 or email us.