“You have a truly sharp legal mind and your courtroom presence is among the best. I am forever grateful for your two years of hard work, dedication and service to my father's case.” — R.C.
“I give Mr. Spano the highest possible recommendation. Mr. Spano helped me navigate a somewhat unorthodox legal matter, did so quickly, and always kept me informed.”
“Thanks for taking my case and getting me a not guilty verdict. You are a great lawyer. I could not asked for anything more. Please know you hold a special place in my family's heart.” — G.B.
“Many thanks for the very professional and gentlemanly way that you conducted yourself at the trial of my son. I along with all of my family were thrilled beyond words with the outcome.” — B.B.
“Thank you for assuring me that just because a good honest person makes a mistake does not mean they have to be treated like a criminal!” — D.S.

Onondaga County Criminal Defense Blog

Ways a home buyer with good intent could commit mortgage fraud

Buying a house in today's market may seem impossible for many people who long to be homeowners. It can take years to get to the point where a person fulfills all the requirements to qualify for a mortgage, such as paying off debt, saving enough money for a down payment and building good credit.

Certain shortcuts may not seem like a big deal for those who intend to pay their mortgage payments and would never consider defaulting on a loan. Providing incorrect information could result in mortgage fraud charges, though. Here are some ways home buyers have gotten into trouble:

What is a RICO violation?

If you face federal RICO charges in New York, you may be unclear about exactly what federal agents and prosecutors allege you did. Despite the fact that RICO violations are white collar crimes, if the prosecutor convicts you, you face not only a substantial prison sentence, but also payment of a substantial fine.

Congress passed the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act in 1970 in an attempt to bring mafiosos to justice. Since then, however, the government has used RICO to prosecute all manner of crimes including the following:

  • Embezzlement
  • Money laundering
  • Bribery
  • Counterfeiting
  • Mail fraud
  • Racketeering

Embezzlement is not as easy to detect as you might think

Embezzlement can occur in any business, big or small. How often it occurs depends on many factors, including the level of internal controls an organization has put in place.

Compared to other theft crimes, however, embezzlement is unusual. It's unusual in that the person who may face charges originally did have authorized access to the money.

What is embezzlement, and what can it look like? We will discuss this by using a real case example from New York.

3 tips for avoiding traffic stops

Traffic stops are always inconvenient and frustrating. When the cops pull you over, you may end up with tickets or criminal charges. Fortunately, there are actions you can take to avoid being a police magnet.

Whether you are a little tipsy and do not want a drunk driving charge or you have marijuana in your car, having an encounter with the police is the last thing you want to experience. Here are some guidelines for staying unnoticeable to the police while driving.

New York considering legalization of recreational marijuana

Across the country, marijuana laws are in a state of flux. In eight states and the District of Columbia, marijuana for recreational use is now legal.

In addition, 30 states and the District of Columbia allow some form of medical marijuana.

New York is not one of the states that have legalized recreational marijuana. But Massachusetts recently did so and neighboring New Jersey is looking seriously at it. Might New York do the same?

Is Your Night About To Get Lit? Safe Partying Tips

A night spent having fun with friends is the perfect way to cap off a busy week. You look forward to it. You think of your plans fondly at the end of a tough shift at work or a long day studying for your next college exam. When the day comes, you just want to let loose. You plan to laugh, tease, joke, eat and drink.

These are the perfect ingredients to an enjoyable, easy-going evening. However, without moderation or proper planning, your night of freedom could easily turn into a life of restrictions and regrets. You spend time planning important aspects of your life, and how you get home after a good time with friends should be given just as much thought.

Bullying: a possible crime parents might not think about

You may remember either being bullied in school or feeling pressured to participate in teasing or bullying to fit in with your peers. The term “kids will be kids” rarely applies these days. Many schools in New York and across the country are involved in anti-bullying education, but it is still a pervasive issue for many children. If your child is accused of bullying, whether it was intentional or he or she felt pressured to go along with it, the consequences can be serious.

Can bullying be a criminal act? This could be the case if another child suffered harm and the parents decided to press charges against your child, or if the behavior was severe enough that authorities deemed it criminal in nature. Some of the most common bullying techniques, which your child might not realize could result in charges, may include the following:

  • Constant teasing, harassment or stalking, including sexual harassment
  • Physically threatening or harming another child
  • Sharing or storing sexually explicit photos of an underage classmate on social media or on a cellphone

Should you refuse sobriety tests in New York?

New York operates under implied consent laws for driving under the influence of alcohol. When a person receives a driver's license in the state, he or she consents to follow police instructions when on the road. Implied consent means if an officer asks you to conduct a sobriety test, you need to abide. 

To pull a car over in the first place, police need to have probable cause. If you drive erratically or drive well above or below the speed limit, then the police can pull you over on suspicion of DUI. From walking in a straight line to blowing into a breathalyzer, police have numerous options. In many cases, refusing to take these tests will do more harm than good. 

How evading your taxes can catch up with you

The old saying is that the only two things that are certain in life are death and taxes. But if you have not been paying your taxes as you should, or if you have been receiving money under the table for work and not claiming it on your tax return, you may be putting yourself at a high risk.

Many people think that "fudging" a bit on their tax return does not do any harm. The truth is that tax evasion is a serious crime, and if the authorities catch you evading your taxes, the penalties can be steep.

DUI with a kid in the car: Diversion programs under Leandra's law

What consequences do you face in New York state if you're convicted of impaired driving with a kid in the car?

In 2009, legislators passed a law known as Leandra's law to punish drivers convicted of impaired driving with an automatic felony conviction if they have minor children (15 or under) as passengers. At the time, advocates for stepped-up penalties described it as the toughest law in the nation.

Recently, however, data shows that in some counties, the percentage of drivers who are convicted of a felony after being charged under Leandra's law has actually dropped. Could this be at least in part because of diversion programs that allow someone to get treatment and avoid a felony conviction?

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