“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

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?

Your rights regarding warrantless vehicle searches

You may have been told authorities cannot legally search your property without first having a warrant. Is this true? The answer is a bit more complicated than you might think, especially when it comes to vehicles. If you are pulled over in New York and officers ask to search your car, can they do so without a court warrant?

If you are pulled over for a minor traffic violation, officers may ask to search your vehicle without a warrant. The automobile exception rule allows warrantless searches, under certain conditions. An officer would need probable cause to suspect a crime has been committed, is in progress or is about to be committed. Your behavior – such as appearing overly agitated, nervous, combative or impatient – during the stop might also lead to probable cause.

Understanding illegal search and seizure

United States citizens receive protection from illegal searches and seizures from the Fourth Amendment in the Constitution. The Fourth Amendment states police cannot search a person's home, assets or vehicle without having a warrant or probable cause.

Despite this protection, every year police skirt around the law and conduct illegal searches and seizures. People need to be aware of their rights so they know when police find something illegally.

Income tax fraud vs. income tax negligence

Tax fraud is a felony offense that costs the United States government billions of dollars every year. In fact, the Internal Revenue Service estimates that the government loses approximately $458 billion annually.

However, not everyone gets away with it. When looking at an instance of tax fraud, the IRS needs to consider if the person intentionally attempted to commit fraud or if it was merely negligence. Simple negligence typically results with a slap on the wrist, so the difference in the penalties between the two is extreme. 

Can police search your property without a warrant?

There are various guidelines in place for police officers who wish to obtain a warrant to inspect a person's home or car. These guidelines are in place to protect the general public from unlawful searches and seizures

Most people are aware they can ask police officers for a warrant when they demand to enter a private residence. However, there are some occasions when a warrant is not necessary. For instance, if an officer asked to peruse a person's home and that person granted permission, then lack of a warrant would not matter if the officer later found an illegal substance. Here are other times when officers do not legally need warrants:

2 ways you may accidentally commit tax fraud

Doing your own taxes can prove complicated, but paying someone else to do them can be expensive, costing you considerable money on top of what you may already owe to the Internal Revenue Service. While the language and calculations involved may be bewildering, tax-related crimes also have serious consequences, so it is important to avoid any “guessing” to ensure you stay on the right side of the law.

In many cases, people who commit tax crimes do not intend to do so; they occur because of negligence, rather than maliciousness or deceitful behavior. Nevertheless, tax crimes can have grave repercussions at the federal level. Recognizing some of the most common tax errors may help you avoid them come tax time.