Criminal Defense Lawyer in Rochester, NY
About Criminal Defense
With a good attorney on your side, you have a much better chance of achieving a fair result. A good attorney will thoroughly investigate the case and look for any evidence that can be used to assist their client. They will also make sure their client’s Constitutional rights are not violated, and ensure the prosecution meets their burden of proof, using only relevant and admissible evidence.
Case Study 1
People v. I.M. (Roch. City Ct., 8/21)
MR. CORLETTA OBTAINS DISMISSAL OF CRIMINAL CHARGE IN LANDLORD/TENANT DISPUTE.
The moratorium on evictions created by COVID-19 has created tensions within families and in Landlord/Tenant relationships, due to tenants virtually squatting in properties without paying rent and protected by the Eviction Moratorium, while landlords continue to incur costs for their properties without income. This has understandably become a considerable source of tension between hard-pressed landlords who still must pay mortgages and operating expenses on the properties they rent to financially strapped tenants, many of whom have legitimate hardships due to loss of employment.
However, some tenants who receive Public Assistance, Section 8, or other government subsidies such as Unemployment Insurance Benefits, stimulus, etc., game the system. This occurred in one of Mr. Corletta’s cases in People v. I.M. (Roch. City Ct., 8/21).
In that case, Mr. Corletta’;s client was the landlord. Their tenant was a Section 8 recipient who was cut off because they were not using the funds for rent and had an eviction proceeding brought against them. As a result, they were then living in the property for free after misusing the Section 8 funds.
The tenant then attempted to exclude Mr. Corletta’s client from the property by claiming Mr. Corletta’s client was “harassing” her, and changing the locks. As a result, not only was Mr. Corletta’s client not collecting any rent, but was unable to care for the property as it fell into disrepair.
Mr. Corletta’s client then entered the property when the tenant was not there. The tenant contacted police, claiming Mr. Corletta’s client attempted to burglarize the property and set it on fire, resulting in an extensive investigation, and a “Reckless Endangerment of Property” charge, when no evidence of arson could be found. The property allegedly “endangered” was the client’s own property.
This was a difficult situation because both the authorities and the client intertwined the issues in the criminal case with landlord/tenant issues. The client expected Mr. Corletta to do something about the tenant. Mr. Corletta separated the issues, kept his eye on the ball, examined the evidence like in any other criminal case, and got the criminal charge completely dismissed via written Motion to Dismiss, which the District Attorney failed to respond to either in writing or orally, because there was no legal basis for the charge.
Mr. Corletta explained to the Court that the criminal charge was nothing more than a pretext to keep his client away from the property. Although the Judge was completely sympathetic and dismissed the charge, he echoed Mr. Corletta’s analysis, and referred the client back to Landlord/Tenant Court to address the issues involving the tenant. However, the client at least did not have the onus of a criminal charge hanging over their head.
Case Study 2
United States v. M.J. (US Dist. Ct., 78/21).
MR. CORLETTA, AFTER NEARLY TWO YEAR BATTLE, OBTAINS FAVORABLE DISPOSITION FOR DEFENDANT IN SERIOUS FEDERAL ENVIRONMENTAL ASBESTOS CASE
Cases in Federal Court are far different from those in State Court. There is a completely different set of rules. Federal cases are governed by Federal Sentencing Guidelines. In Federal criminal cases, Misdemeanor reductions are rare. Further, non-jail sentences are rare.
Notwithstanding, Mr. Corletta obtained exactly that in United States v. M.J. (US Dist. Ct., 8/21).
In that case, Mr. Corletta’s client, a 30+ year employee of the State of New York, was indicted by a Federal Grand Jury for Unlawful Release of Asbestos into the Environment, a federal felony. Mr. Corletta’s client was a low level Maintenance Supervisor on a New York State property containing several older buildings in need of asbestos remediation.
None of the client’s superiors were indicted. The contractor who contracted with New York State to perform a “cleanout” of this old building was not indicted. Mr. Corletta’s client, a Maintenance Supervisor who performed maintenance with a small crew on numerous buildings on that property, was indicted, because the client was the only person who forthrightly told environmental investigators what happened.
Mr. Corletta’s client did not participate in the planning, administration, supervision, or bidding of the job, had virtually no purchasing authority. An outside contractor did it. The client “opened” the door.
Mr. Corletta’s client had minimal involvement in this job. Nonetheless, as the last person in the “food chain”, the client was indicted, as the client’s superior disclaimed all knowledge. The contractor who submitted a “lowball” bid, promptly obtained an attorney, and also disclaimed knowledge.
Mr. Corletta reviewed over 1500 pages of Discovery materials and Grand Jury transcripts in representing this client. After assessing the client’s potential exposure under the Federal Clean Air Act, Mr. Corletta was able to obtain the government’s assent to a Misdemeanor Plea. This was done after assessing all facts and circumstances, including the possibility of conviction and incarceration during a pandemic for an older Defendant with health problems.
The next hurdle was to convince the District Judge to depart from the Federal Sentencing Guidelines and impose no jail. Mr. Corletta filed the appropriate Sentencing Memorandum and Downward Departure Motion under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines and made multiple arguments on Defendant’s behalf, primarily centered on his lack of authority, the responsibility of higher-ups, and that he was acting on their orders. Not only was Mr. Corletta able to convince the District Judge to impose no jail, but the client was sentenced to only one year probation; a virtually unheard of sentence on the Federal level.
Mr. Corletta also saved his client tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees if the matter was tried.
Needless to say, the client was extremely grateful to Mr. Corletta and expressed that sentiment in open Court at the time of sentencing.
Mr. Corletta, sensing injustice, told the District Judge in his Sentencing comments that it had been an honor to represent this client, who was clearly one of the most forthright, standup individuals Mr. Corletta has ever represented, who had been betrayed by superiors, people the client trusted.
Case Study 3
People v. O.S. (Roch. City Ct., 4/21).
MR. CORLETTA OBTAINS DISMISSAL OF ASSAULT CHARGE DUE TO INSUFFICIENT FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS.
It is disturbing that people are often improperly jailed, even for a day, based upon accusations that fail to meet statutory and Constitutional muster. Such was the case in People v. O.S. (Roch. City Ct., 4/21).
In that case, Mr. Corletta’s client was charged with Reckless Assault. The Information, which must contain nonhearsay factual allegations of an evidentiary character supporting each and every element of the offense charged, contained conclusory allegations regarding Defendant’s intent and the alleged victim’s injuries. Defendant was incarcerated for over a day before being arraigned and released on recognizance.
To make matters worse, the District Attorney demanded a plea up front with mandatory “mental health treatment”, based solely upon the accusations of the alleged victim.
Defendant was not referred for mental health treatment or examination upon arrest, nor did police indicate Defendant acted erratically, resisted, or appeared impaired.
Further, there was a lack of any medical proof the alleged victim was actually injured.
Immediately recognizing on these arguments, Mr. Corletta filed a Motion to Dismiss, alleging the Accusatory Instrument was insufficient, and did not warrant the case going forward. The Assistant District Attorney persisted in her position, relying on the accusations of the alleged victim instead of what the police said, and lacking any proof from a mental health professional that Defendant was impaired. Her legal arguments failed to answer Mr. Corletta’s objections, and were of a boilerplate nature.
The Court granted Mr. Corletta’s Motion, dismissing the charge against his client, who was a professional. The client has already moved in order to get away from the alleged victim who was harassing the client and who initiated the altercation to begin with. The client was quite grateful for Mr. Corletta’s aggressive intervention.
Case Study 4
People v. R.S. (Greece Tn. Ct., 4/22)
MR. CORLETTA GETS JUDGE TO REVERSE HERSELF
Staying with it, and not giving up, is epitomized by a defense attorney making a Motion to Reargue, after their initial Motion to Dismiss was denied. Many attorneys are reluctant to call out a Judge for making a mistake. Not Mr. Corletta. If Mr. Corletta believes he is right, he will keep after it.
Such was the case in People v. R.S. (Greece Tn. Ct., 4/22).
In that case, Mr. Corletta noticed a Speedy Trial defect, and promptly made Motion to Dismiss.
The Assistant District Attorney undoubtedly knowing the same defect was there, disingenuously attempted to save the case by making a specious legal argument. Mr. Corletta vigorously argued the Motion on his client’s behalf.
The Town Justice got confused on a key fact, and denied Mr. Corletta’s Motion. Not to be denied, Mr. Corletta made a Motion to Reargue and again reiterated the facts and applicable law he believed the Judge misapprehended.
The ADA again made the same specious argument in response, to which Mr. Corletta replied with a further Memorandum of Law.
After all of these efforts, Mr. Corletta’s point was made. The Judge, to their credit, candidly admitted they were wrong on the law, and that Mr. Corletta was right.
The charge was dismissed, and Mr. Corletta’s client, who was an older person with no prior criminal history, was extremely grateful.
Thomas A Corletta Attorney at Law
Rochester NY 14614
Monday – Friday
9:00 A.M. – 5:00 P.M.