Author Archives: Saul Bienenfeld

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About Saul Bienenfeld

Saul Bienenfeld is an attorney & principal at Law Offices of Saul Bienenfeld P.C. in New York.
EMAIL: sbienenfeld@me.com
BIO: About Saul
PHONE: 212-363-7701

“Clinton Defense”: Did It Help a Guilty Naval Officer Get a More Lenient Sentence?
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“Clinton Defense”: Did It Help a Guilty Naval Officer Get a More Lenient Sentence? | Saul Bienenfeld

After pleading guilty to taking and sharing photos of classified information, naval officer Kristian Saucier may have received a more lenient sentence by evoking a “Clinton defense” strategy. In 2009, Saucier took pictures inside his nuclear submarine’s engine room—a classified area. He was court marshaled and pleaded guilty to taking and sharing the pictures with an ex-girlfriend. During his sentencing, he equated his crime with that of Mrs. Hillary Clinton, who was not prosecuted for violating legitimate US secrets on an unprotected server in her role as the Secretary of State.

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What Happens When Your “Debt to Society” Can Never Be Repaid?
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What Happens When Your “Debt to Society” Can Never Be Repaid? | Saul Bienenfeld

It is often challenging for convicted criminals to productively re-enter civic life. An incarceration or conviction, regardless of the degree of severity, can essentially become a life sentence. Recently, in the case of Jane Doe v. United States, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that federal courts have no authority to expunge records of a valid conviction. More specifically, the Court further distinguished its precedent of holding the Court’s power to expunge arrest records following dismissal of charges.

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Does Technology Trump the Right to Privacy? A Recent Ruling Says No!
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Does Technology Trump the Right to Privacy? A Recent Ruling Says No! | Saul Bienenfeld

Many law enforcement agencies utilize cell-site simulators (a.k.a StingRay, Hailstorm, or Triggerfish) to track the whereabouts of suspected criminals. Essentially, these devices act like cellphone towers—deceiving cell phones into sending pings by which the specific location of a particular device is narrowed down. The obtained pings often lead directly to someone’s residence where officers may indeed find the suspect and/or proof of criminal activity.

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Retail Prison: You Have More Rights than You May Be Led to Believe
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Retail Prison: You Have More Rights than You May Be Led to Believe | Saul Bienenfeld

When shoplifting is suspected, retail stores have the right to hold, investigate, and search the accused person. With the looming threat of costly civil penalties, many retail stores coerce the accused shoplifters into signing confessions and paying monetary damages—a practice that treads a thin line between permissible and impermissible behavior. In a recent decision, Judge Manuel Mendez of the New York Supreme Court has granted a preliminary injunction against Macy’s—the large retail magnate—on behalf of a person who sued the chain for false arrest and abuse of process.

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Should Dating Websites Require Background Checks?
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Should Dating Websites Require Background Checks? | Saul Bienenfeld

Internet dating sites are an increasingly popular method used by individuals seeking to meet potential matches. There are various sites, such as match.com or christianmingle.com, which span a broad range of services, including linking people who are looking for casual experiences as well as long-term relationships or marriage. Some individuals have enjoyable experiences and find true love, while others find the opposite—physical violence and emotional tragedy, even rape or murder.

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15 Rejected Grand Jury Subpoenas! An Unprecedented Disruption to the Status Quo
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15 Rejected Grand Jury Subpoenas! An Unprecedented Disruption to the Status Quo | Saul Bienenfeld

Never before has a judge rejected a grand jury subpoena for using non-specific, boilerplate language. Until now! In a landmark decision, Judge James Orenstein—United States Magistrate Judge for the Eastern District of New York—rejected 15 grand jury subpoenas due to lack of specificity. In this case, the multiple subpoenas called for information from social media platforms; two were directed at Facebook.

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Handwriting Analysis: Science or Art Form? A New York Federal Judge Weighs In
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Handwriting Analysis: Science or Art Form? A New York Federal Judge Weighs In | Saul Bienenfeld

Hey, wait! That’s not my signature! I didn’t sign that! You think so? Prove it! I’ve had personal experiences in my trials with handwriting experts. Regarding the questionable signature, the expert—at best—will state his or her finding with a reasonable degree of certainty. Thus, inherent in their finding is a lack of conviction. A lack of scientific proof. And the potential for error.  A federal judge in the Southern District of New York State has put an end to this seemingly flawed system utilized in forgery cases.

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The Stanford Rapist: Was Individualized Justice Justified?
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The Stanford Rapist: Was Individualized Justice Justified? | Saul Bienenfeld

The sentencing of a Stanford University student guilty of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman has been met with an outpouring of disbelief across the nation. The extremely low sentence of six months—for a rape conviction—in actuality will be further reduced to four months for good behavior, which begs the following, conflicting questions:

  • Should there be specified guidelines and minimum sentences for specific crimes that judges must adhere to; or
  • Given that we have suggested sentences, should judges have the latitude to deviate from the guidelines?

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The People v. Michelle Veled: Ineffective Counsel, Verdict Reversal & the Aftermath
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The People v. Michelle Veled: Ineffective Counsel, Verdict Reversal & the Aftermath | Saul Bienenfeld

An unusual turn of events has occurred in the case of the People v. Michelle Veled. Despite the defendant’s categorical guilt, the Appellate Division has declared that the original jury verdict of guilty will be reversed due a technicality. As a result, the defendant is now entitled to a new trial. The Facts of the Case Several years ago, a police detective was gazing out of a window in a Brooklyn courthouse.

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Imagine: Positive Shifts in the Relationships Between the United States & Cuba
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Imagine: Positive Shifts in the Relationships Between the United States & Cuba | Saul Bienenfeld

“And the world will be as one.” The world-renowned music and lyrics of John Lennon symbolize the current trajectory of the relationship between the United States & Cuba. This is ironic, given Cuba’s historic view of The Beatles. In the 1950s and ‘60s, Fidel Castro said, “There will be no ‘Beatlemania’ in Cuba.” During that time in Cuba, The Beatles were considered to be a “vulgar, consumerist group” and “another tool of capitalist America,” (did he know they were British?) and people were actually imprisoned just for listening to the Beatles there.

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Eavesdropping: Understand the Crime & Protect Your Privacy!
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Eavesdropping: Understand the Crime & Protect Your Privacy! | Saul Bienenfeld

Privacy is, more than ever, a true commodity. In today’s technologically sophisticated world, the majority of people have some type of easily accessible recording technology. In such an environment, what constitutes eavesdropping? Eavesdropping & Its Implications The following real-life example demonstrates why it is particularly important to understand the overarching and state-specific eavesdropping laws—and how they can be applied in criminal cases. In November of 2007, Tessa McCaw and Hopeton Campbell were pulled over for speeding.

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Rights on a Flight: Are Passenger Concerns Handled Fairly?
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Rights on a Flight: Are Passenger Concerns Handled Fairly? | Saul Bienenfeld

Upon booking air travel, you’ve probably chosen your seat, window or aisle, then row number—in this way you convey a preference. Yet, while you can choose your seat, you, unfortunately, cannot choose the person who is seated next to you. Often, passengers are trapped uncomfortably on planes without any legitimate recourse. Like many entities, airlines are prohibited from discriminating against people on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, or ancestry. They are barred from unfair and deceptive practices.

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The People v. Moore: A Hearsay Exception Is Proof of Guilt!
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The People v. Moore: A Hearsay Exception Is Proof of Guilt! | Saul Bienenfeld

Imagine a criminal court case where hearsay is the evidence used to implicate the defendant, the victim of the crime was not present at the trial, and a guilty verdict was rendered! Almost always, a case like this would be dismissed, primarily because it is challenging to win a case without  victim cooperation and because hearsay is not always credible. But there are exceptions.  The landmark case of The People v. Moore (2015) proved that a hearsay exception can be used to convict a defendant of a crime.

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Playing “Tag” with Orders of Protection
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Playing “Tag” with Orders of Protection | Saul Bienenfeld

It’s often said that laws can’t keep up with the fast pace of changing technology. One area in which we see this phenomenon is social media communication, specifically in regards to orders of protection. What is an order of protection? It’s basically a judge’s order which instructs someone not to communicate or have any contact with the person named in the order. It protects that person from harassment, stalking, and physical & verbal contact. It also covers third-party contact, meaning you can’t try to get other people — such as friends or relatives — to pass a message to the protected party on your behalf.

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Punished for Being Ill — When Parole Rights Are Violated
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Punished for Being Ill — When Parole Rights Are Violated | Saul Bienenfeld

In 2008, a young man named Philip Hawthorne had sexual communications online with a 13-year-old girl. He was sent to prison for 5 to 15 years — the maximum sentence for his crimes. Hawthorne had been on psychotropic medications to control his mood swings and behavior. When he went to prison, he was taken off these medications. Predictably, his behavior worsened; he got into physical altercations with guards & other inmates. When he was allowed to resume taking medication, he returned to being a model prisoner; he participated in therapy and had no disciplinary issues.

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The People v. Moffit: You Have the Right to an Attorney-Client Confidentiality
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The People v. Moffit: You Have the Right to an Attorney-Client Confidentiality | Saul Bienenfeld

The case People v. Moffitt was recently decided in New York, providing an important precedent for the accused to not only have the right to speak to an attorney before taking a breathalyzer test but the right to do so privately. The facts of this case: A man was pulled over for drinking and driving. He was brought back to the local police precinct where the police planned to videotape his breathalyzer test.

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The BDS Movement Is Absolute BS!
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The BDS Movement Is Absolute BS! | Saul Bienenfeld

Kuwait Airways may no longer be able to land in NYC. There is a movement happening called BDS—Boycott, Divest, and Sanction—that encourages people to discriminate against Israelis and not buy Israeli products. Recent actions displayed by Kuwait Airways is a perfect example of this movement. Kuwait Airways flies out of JFK Airport. Typically, they fly first to Kuwait and then to other countries. Kuwait itself has a law that Israelis are not allowed to enter the country, so Kuwait Airways decided not to sell tickets to anyone holding an Israeli passport because, after all, they can’t get into the country.

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Have You Ever Experienced Religious Discrimination?
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Have You Ever Experienced Religious Discrimination?| Saul Bienenfeld

I have been practicing law for over 25 years. Before the start of what would have been my 45th jury trial, my opponent made a motion to ask the court to order me to remove my kippah.[1] I was dumbfounded. Here we are in Nassau County, New York, ready to pick a jury, and my opponent believed that a jury would side with me over him, solely because I was wearing a religious article. I decided at that moment that no matter how the judge ruled, I would not, under any circumstances, remove my kippah.

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Is Daily Fantasy Sports Gambling?
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Is Daily Fantasy Sports Gambling? | Saul Bienenfeld

Fantasy Sports has become very popular in the last decade. To create a fantasy sports team, people select real players from professional sports teams to create their own “fantasy” team, then accumulate points based on how these players perform during the season. If the players on an individual’s “fantasy team” perform better than players from other “fantasy teams,” that person can either win or lose. FanDuel and DraftKings decided to make “fantasy sports betting” a daily thing.

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3 Strikes and the Residual Clause is OUT
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3 Strikes and the Residual Clause is OUT | Saul Bienenfeld

The Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA) is a federal law that stipulates sentencing enhancements for felons who commit crimes involving firearms if convicted of three or more violent crimes. This law, also known as the “three-strikes law,” imposes a 15-year mandatory minimum sentence on the third violent felony. The ACCA describes certain prior convictions as violent felonies if they involved:

  • the use of physical force as an element of the offense;
  • arson, burglary, extortion; or
  • the use of explosives.

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Raise the Age: Youthful Offenders Deserve a Second Chance
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Raise the Age: Youthful Offenders Deserve a Second Chance | Saul Bienenfeld

There are only two states – North Carolina and New York – that allow 16- and 17-year-olds to be arrested and charged as adults when a violent crime is involved. This means that 16- or 17-year-old adolescents can be put into prison with real, hardened, adult criminals. When a young person is put into an adult facility, they are:

  • 5 times more likely to be sexually assaulted;
  • 2 times more likely to be injured by prison staff; and
  • 8 times more likely to commit suicide than their peers in juvenile facilities.

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Freedom of Speech or Criminal Harassment?
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Freedom of Speech or Criminal Harassment | Saul Bienenfeld

In 2012, a motorist named William Barboza was issued a speeding ticket in Liberty, Upstate New York and wrote on the return payment form “fuck your shitty town bitches.” He also crossed out the name of the town “Liberty” and instead wrote the word “tyranny.” When the clerk opened the payment form, she became very upset and told the town judge about it. The judge called the man to appear in court,

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How to Get Your Firearms Back If They Have Been Confiscated by the Police
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How to Get Your Firearms Back If They Have Been Confiscated by the Police | Saul Bienenfeld

In New York, if there is a police report of domestic violence in a certain household, the police have the right to take away any firearms within the house. Even if there is no arrest made and the situation seems to be overblown, the guns may still be confiscated. This includes both weapons that require a license to possess, as well as those such as rifles, which do not always requires licenses.

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Central Booking – The Awful Truth!
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Central Booking – The Awful Truth | Saul Bienenfeld

Central Booking is the jail cell deep underneath the courthouse at 100 Centre Street in Manhattan. Everyone arrested in Manhattan is taken to Central Booking – everyone. If you were arrested for failing to pay a traffic ticket, you’re going into the same cell as the guy just arrested for killing his entire family. The conditions at Central Booking are uncomfortable and unsanitary. It’s overcrowded – 20 to 30 people in one cell. There is no place to sleep and it’s hot.

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Bad Parenting or Criminal Neglect?
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Bad Parenting or Criminal Neglect | Saul Bienenfeld

When a child is left alone and unattended, whether it is for a couple of minutes or longer — Is it bad parenting or is it a criminal act? In a case decided last month, People v. Fielden — A woman and her infant son were staying at a hotel in New York City. At one point, she left her baby on the floor of the lobby in his car seat for more than an hour and people noticed. She was later seen leaving him alone in the hotel room. Police came to the hotel and arrested her.

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Can You Be Arrested for Carrying Around Your Own Medication?
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Can You Be Arrested for Carrying Around Your Own Medication | Saul Bienenfeld

It is not uncommon for New Yorkers to pick up a prescription at a pharmacy for a loved one who is too busy or too sick to make it to the store themselves. Can a relative bringing the prescription home be arrested if found with the prescription bottle that doesn’t have his or her name on it? In reality, there are two likely situations that can lead to being arrested for seemingly innocent conduct like this.

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Can You Consult with Your Lawyer About Whether to Submit to a Breathalyzer?
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Can You Consult with Your Lawyer About Whether to Submit to a Breathalyzer | Saul Bienenfeld

A recent case in New York has confirmed that a person being accused of driving while intoxicated has the right to speak to an attorney in order to decide whether or not to submit to a chemical test such as a breathalyzer. In the case People of the State of New York v. Stanciu, the accused, Mr. Florentin Stanciu, was pulled over and arrested for driving while intoxicated. He was read his Miranda rights and admitted to drinking a glass of wine prior to being pulled over.

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Can a Teacher Testify in Place of a Preschool Student Suffering Child Abuse?
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Can a Teacher Testify in Place of a Preschool Student Suffering Child Abuse | Saul Bienenfeld

If a child tells his or her teacher about physical abuse suffered, can the teacher testify about this discussion at trial if the abuser is criminally charged? The question is not as simple as it sounds. Generally the Sixth Amendment’s Confrontation Clause mandates that all criminal defendants have a right to confront their accusers (in this case, the children that were allegedly abused). This Amendment prohibits the introduction of testimonial statements by a non-testifying witness (the child), unless the witness is unavailable to testify, and the defendant had a prior opportunity for cross examination.

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Can the Police Search Your Cell Phone When They Arrest You?
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Can the Police Search Your Cell Phone When They Arrest You | Saul Bienenfeld

If someone is arrested, and he or she is carrying a cell phone at the time, can the police look through the phone to search for additional evidence? The Supreme Court decided in 2 recent cases that the answer is “no.” In both Riley v. California and U.S. v. Wurie, the Court ruled that police must first obtain a valid warrant to search the phone. This means they have to convince a judge of the likelihood of finding further evidence of criminal behavior upon accessing the device.

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Drug Overdose: Is the Injector Responsible for Murder?
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Drug Overdose: Is the Injector Responsible for Murder? | Saul Bienenfeld

In New York State, the answer is “No.” According to People v. Reeder, decided May 11, 2015 in Seneca County, “injection of heroin into another who subsequently dies is, without proof of additional aggravating factors, legally insufficient to establish a ‘substantial … risk that such result will occur.’” What’s important to note here is that the defendant admitted that he had injected an entire bag of heroin into the deceased. Basically, shooting heroin into someone who already shoots up is not enough to establish that death will occur. Because of this, the judge dismissed the indictment.

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