Police in New York City say a man, wanted for bashing a rider after his target was hit by a train, has surrendered.
Benjamin Gonzalez is suspected of punching Francis Christie in the head on a Union Square platform around three in the morning on December 16.
Christie, 41, was pushed to the ground and his head hung over the platform’s edge as an incoming Q train slammed into his head shattering his skull.
Gonzalez, 24, then drew Christie backward from the edge and hit him again. The incident was caught on video and Gonzalez was accused with assault when he turned himself in. The attacker has been released on a $75K bail, and no court date has been set.
What has happened to the city’s subway? According to The Atlantic it wasn’t long ago that New York residents could look to cities like Boston and Washington to appreciate the reliability of their subway.
But with fare hikes, overcrowding, frequent breakdowns and rickety tracks, New York’s Metro Transportation Authority sees millions of angry riders and a multi-billion repair job that will take decades.
Meanwhile, crime on the subway system rises to levels that would keep the Caped Crusader busy. METRO authorities point to increased ridership as the primary factor in the increase in underground crime. There are more passengers now than since the 1940s.
The all-time ridership record was established in 1946 with 2 billion passengers. Ridership exceeded 1.7 billion in 2016, breaking records set in 1948. Now, overcrowding is the reason for about one-third of the system’s delays and over 2/3s of the crime.
Pickpockets, Thieves and Public Lewdness
The Metro Transportation Authority points to pickpockets and thieves as the trigger behind the bump in the subway’s crime rate. About 30-percent of the robbery victims were asleep when their iPhones and iPads were stolen.
“I guess you should know not to go to sleep,” rider Freddie Cant told Channel 7 News.
While the MTA extends its “stay awake and alert” strategy of 30-second announcements, many committee affiliates want more than merely more police on patrol. They are struggling for Governor Andrew Cuomo to name a prosecutor to focus on prosecuting subway crime.
Security measures specialist Sal Lifrieri told Channel 7 that regardless what the administration tries to make persons safer, it goes back to the passengers to protect themselves and their property.
“Pay attention where you put your valuables. Don’t flash money or show your billfold. Don’t present yourself as an easy mark,” Lifrieri said.
Gadget thieves aren’t the only culprits. In addition to Gonzalez, NYPD said they were searching for two men in unconnected subway crimes.
One man is sought for taking an upskirt image of a straphanger, and the other is wanted for public lewdness.
Can an adult be tried for a crime they committed as a kid?
For murder, yes. There isn’t a time limit for prosecuting murder. In other situations, the law in effect at the time of the crime governs the punishment or sentence.
A well-known example is Michael Skakel who was fifteen when he killed Martha Moxley. He wasn’t tried until he was middle age, when he was tried as a juvenile.
It’s a story that began sometime on October 30, 1975, in Greenwich, Connecticut. It may have started before then, but that’s the date 15-year-old Martha Moxley was brutally murdered with a golf club.
Almost immediately, suspicion fell on three individuals. Kennedy Littleton, a live-in tutor at the Skakel house,, Thomas Skakel and his brother Michael Skakel. Littleton was hired by the Skakel’s parents while Thomas and Michael competed in everything as brothers will. On the night of Martha’s murder, Michael climbed a tree in his parent’s yard and watched Thomas and Martha make out under the branches.
Martha’s body was beneath the tree the next morning.
No one was charged, and the case drifted in cold case files for decades. When William Kennedy Smith was tried for rape in 1991, a rumor started he may have been present the night Martha was murdered. While the rumor proved to be unfounded, it did renew interest in the case.
Dominick Dunne, an author, published in 1993 ‘A Season in Purgatory,’ a fictional account of the Martha Moxley murder. Mark Fuhrman, infamous for his involvement in the O.J. Simpson murder trial, wrote his book in 1998. “Murder in Greenwich” and named Michael as the murderer and highlighted the mistakes made by the police during the initial investigation.
A one-man grand jury was seated to review the case in June 1998 and in January 2000, Michael was arrested for Moxley’s murder. A judge decided Skakel would be tried as an adult and his trial began in May 2002. The following month, Skakel was found guilty and sentenced to 20-years to life behind bars.
Skakel was granted a new trial in October 2013 which led to Skakel’s release on $1.2 million bond the next month. Skakel was retried in October 2017, his sentence reinstated, and was returned to prison to finish out his 20-to-life sentence.
Skakel will complete his sentence in an adult prison. Prior to 2017, New York City juveniles were sent to adult prisons as well. With a new law, that changes.
New York City Changes Incarceration Patterns For Youth
Beginning in October 2019, teenagers will not be sent to jails and prisons housing older offenders. With a $163 billion infusion, New York will send 16 and 17 year-olds to family and youth courts. and hold them in juvenile facilities.
According to Raise the Age, a push to campaign for changing the age of criminal responsibility, the new law will affect 28,000 sixteen and seventeen-year-olds who are arrested each year in New York. Over 70% of young arrestees are Latino or Black.
Advocates claim the new law shows the state’s readiness to put young people’s rehabilitation first. Juvenile justice researches have been aware of the adverse results coming from criminalizing youth.
Risks of sexual assault are five times higher for teenagers in adult facilities and, for their ‘protection,’ youth are often locked in solitary confinement.
The likelihood of suicide skyrockets when teens are placed in adult prisons. They are also more apt to become live-long criminals than their counterparts in the juvenile system.
As humanity creeps into the judicial system, adults will still be tried for crimes committed as juveniles, but at least juveniles won’t have to suffer the draconian outcomes of being locked up in an adult prison.
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“What are these illegal immigrants doing here? I hate immigrant people,” yelled David Caputo according to prosecutors.
The diminutive man had a machete when he threatened to kill and man on a Sunset Park street in June.
On December 6, Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun refused prosecutors’ request to boost Caputo’s bail to $10,000.
Caputo pleaded not guilty and allowed to walk on his own recognizance. If Caputo is convicted, he is looking at a maximum of four years in prison.
Caputo isn’t the only American right-wing terrorist — just the latest.
Majority Of Hate Crimes Committed By White, American Males
Since 9/11 the majority — by far — of domestic terrorism incidents were carried out by right-wing, American perpetrators. A study by The Center for Investigative Reporting shows right-wing terrorists responsible for twice as many events as Islamist terrorists in America since the World Trade Center attacked sixteen years ago.
The latest instance of right wing-anti-Islamist terrorism happened in Men preparing for morning prayers. The bomb which went through the mosque’s imam’s office window damaged the office, but no one was injured. Police are handling the case as a hate crime and have looked to the FBI to help in the investigation.
The mosque, which serves the large Somali community in Bloomington, Minnesota, is a center for religious and activist leaders in the region. One worshipper at the mosque found the experience “unimaginable”.
“We came to this country for the same reason everyone else did. Freedom to worship,” said Yasir Abdalrahman. “That freedom is under threat.”
Seeking to stem the tide of hate crime in America, New York state is taking steps.
Laws Tighten After Charlottesville
New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo waited until convulsive demonstrations by white nationalists in Charlottesville, VA to call for expanded hate crime laws in The Empire State.
Cuomo’s proposal would add provoking riots and uprisings targeting shielded groups of people to the offenses prosecutable under New York’s current hate crimes law.
New York’s existing hate crimes legislation calls for a person to be prosecuted for a hate crime for attacks that prey on victims based on race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, age, disability or sexual orientation.
“The Charlottesville Provisions” as Cuomo calls the proposal, adds including a riot which targets those groups.
“The ugly events in Charlottesville must not be replicated in New York,” Cuomo’s office said in a statement. “This legislation will protect New Yorkers and send a signal that violent discrimination has no place in our society.”
The proposals won’t be reviewed until 2018. New York’s assembly is out of session and won’t return until January.
Americans who have not been blinded by the hateful rhetoric coming from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, as well as people who remain faithful to the values of religious freedom, are insulted by misguided and reprehensible attacks.
Big Brother is watching. That statement is not an exaggeration — anymore. When Ed Snowden exposed classified documents, most people were astonished to find out just how much access the National Security Agency has to email and phone records of everyday citizens. Since Snowden leaked the documents, an ongoing debate about surveillance and privacy has been the background music to civil liberties. Even local communities where technology permits the police to indiscriminately gather data are talking.
As technology changes the balance between the citizen and state, the government and law enforcement increases their access to our privacy activities, and civil liberties are threatened.
Everything from constitutional rights, crime-fighting, and national security have been invoked in the legal doctrines post 9/11. Law enforcement has access to electronic records which even includes the ubiquitous cellphone.
Following 9/11 New York City rushed to develop the most sophisticated networks in America. Since then the NYPD has expanded the use and permit local precinct commanders to use the high-tech tools which were meant for counterterrorism measures.
Paul Browne, an NYPD spokesman, said, “The technology was engineered with a sense of urgency following 9/11 but has applications to crime fighting.”
New York is one of few large American cities which developed broad surveillance networks in recent years. Using federal funding the city’s web was modeled after London’s “Ring of Steel,” the most extensive surveillance camera network globally.
Despite being built with Homeland Security grants, there are no legal restrictions against using the surveillance network to fight traditional crime. The system’s scope and sophistication worry many people.
“There is no outside monitoring of the system at all,” points out Christopher Dunn, associate legal director of New York’s Civil Liberties Union. The group filed a lawsuit claiming the police violated religious freedoms by using the surveillance apparatus to monitor Muslim communities.
Domain Awareness System
The NYPD has introduced “Domain Awareness System,” DAS, which was developed in partnership with Microsoft and funded by U.S. Homeland Security grants.
Coming to over $230 million, the system’s software connects the NYPD’s resources such as surveillance cameras, license scanners, and radiation sensors to 911 calls, criminal records, and other city databases. The information is displayed on a user-friendly interface. Access was initially limited to desktops located in select precinct houses, but now mobile terminals are in each of the city’s 76 precincts, patrol cars and even beat cops with a cell phone or tablet.
License Plate Readers
Deploying over one hundred license plate readers on city bridges, tunnels and traffic lights, every car that moves into, or out of, the city is captured photographically. The city’s plans call for an increase in the readers to over 200 with another 100 being attached to squad cars’ hoods. According to Browne NYPD’s database contains information on more than 16 million license plates.
Civil liberties attorneys see the system as tantamount to bypassing the Fourth Amendment.
“An inclusive license-plate reader is the same thing as attaching police GPS devices to civilian vehicles as the system permits law enforcement to follow movements citywide,” said a spokesman for the NYCLU. “The public would never stand for routine GPS tracking by law enforcement, but this system is pushing us that direction.”
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Ron Griffin lost an eye for defending his gay stepson from his building’s superintendent in the lobby of their apartment building.
The building super still has a job.
Griffin is suing in Bronx Supreme court and claims the building super, Jose Adorno has been harassing Griffin’s stepson for more than a year.
“He’s racist, ignorant and doesn’t care about anyone but himself,” Griffin’s stepson, Joey Brown told reporters at The Daily News. “He’s continually bashing gay people.
The brawl which cost Griffin his sight was caught on surveillance footage around 2:15 am Saturday morning. The men got into an argument with Adorno and Griffin suggested to Adorno that he may be gay himself.
Adorno lashed out and stabbed Griffin in the eye.
Adorno pleaded guilty, served 60-days, but still has his job.
Griffin and Brown also sued the building’s managing firm and accused them of allowing Adorno continue working despite prior complaints.
“Adorno had a past of bothering the LGBT tenants — they did nothing,” said the pair’s lawyer, Mark Shirian.
Hate Crimes Rise In New York
Overall, hate crimes in New York City have risen by more than 55% since election day, 2016, according to data recently released by law enforcement.
The New York Police Department (NYPD) said rise includes anti-Semitic hate crimes as well as hate crimes connected to sexual orientation but showed no hate crimes motivated by gender or disability.
When asked if he blamed Trump for the rise in hate crimes, New York Mayor de Blasio said, “It’s more complicated. It’s not linear. Do I blame Trump for using hate speech? Absolutely.”
NYPD spokespersons confirmed that hate crimes rise and fall in proportion to high profile, national events, but stopped short of linking a specific hate crime to any particular remark made by a public figure.
“You can’t have a president single out groups of Americans and not have ramifications,” de Blasio said.
“It’s obviously connected to the election.”
Not An Illusion
The rise in hate crimes isn’t smoke and mirrors. An analysis of official police hate crime data from 13 large cities by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism reveals hate crimes increased nationally.
Written by Professor Brian Levin, the study is seen as a strong forecast of FBI hate crime stats released every year in November.
Michael Brown’s killing wasn’t the first time in American history where a black male was unarmed yet shot dead by a white police officer. It wouldn’t be the last.
But Brown’s death — and the outrage which followed — seems to be a watershed moment separating the era of ‘it happened again’ from ‘it can’t happen anymore.’
Playwright Phelim McAleer addresses the unrest which was based on a lie started by Brown’s friend. The turmoil was amplified by an eager, credulous media. Now it falls to McAleer, a New York City playwright, to perform a public service and sift the truth.
The 90-minute courtroom drama just wrapped production at the 30th Street Theatre in Manhattan but will be restaged in a different venue if interest is sustained.
Governor Finally Intervenes
Missouri’s Governor, Jay Nixon, had seen weeks and months of sometimes peaceful, often violent protests in the little suburb of St. Louis. While everyone waited for the grand jury decision, Nixon detailed law enforcement preparations.
Tensions had been building, and some groups threatened to hunt down Wilson if the officer was not charged with a crime.
When rumors of an impending announcement swept social media, the prosecuting attorney, Robert McCulloch, reiterated his thought that the grand jury wouldn’t decide until the last two weeks of November.
I Know What I Saw
The National Lawyers Guild and American Civil Liberties Union assisted in protester training and tried to negotiate terms of engagement with police officers for the expected demonstrations.
Looting and vandalism in Ferguson followed the shooting. Protesters clashed with law enforcement, and some businesses boarded up and decided how to protect themselves and their property if violence and destruction spewed from the angry volcano again.
The school district reviewed plans in case of protests, and the schools were required to repeatedly dismiss classes early for safety.
While people from Ferguson said, “I know what I saw, You can’t deny it,” they forget there is a difference between “I know what I saw,” and “I know what I was shown.”
Vengeance And An Eyewitness
Ferguson broke out the summer of 2014 from a need for vengeance. Vengeance comes out of anger, frustration, and passion. Revenge has just one goal: destruction. Destruction of what went wrong, but vengeance is often turned on anything else the anger focuses on.
The protester’s claims begin to fall apart as one last witness, Ciara Jenkins, played by Renika Williams in McAleer’s stage version which is based verbatim on grand jury transcripts.
Speaking of Brown charging Wilson “like a football player,” Jenkins wonders, “I don’t understand why he just didn’t stop.”
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Fifty-years ago Sam Sommer was ‘kidnapped.’ At least that’s how he puts it today. Sommer was standing outside a Dunkin’ Donut store on Long Island when he claims, he was beaten, arrested and convicted of the 1968 murder of his wife’s uncle and business partner — Irving Silver.
Sommer spent two-decades in prison. During those years — and the years afterward, he has consistently alleged he was framed by police and prosecutors.
Wrongful conviction claims are not unusual. Sommer’s does stand out for longevity and tenaciousness. Sommer has been fighting his conviction in the courts for decades and is hoping for exoneration before dying. During his struggle, he has gained the support of judges and pro bono lawyers — but he has never found his success in the courtrooms of New York City.
Sommer may be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Following the filing of a freedom of information act, Sommer was given access to his files and located documents he believes invalidates his conviction.
Initially, prosecutors said Silver died from blunt force trauma to the head. The police labeled Silver’s demise the result of a hit-and-run. Silver, prosecutors said, was a ‘marked man’ because of entanglements with the mob.
Sommer’s conviction came when Suffolk County was filled with charges of police brutality and coerced confessions. The courts were mismanaged, and no one could seem to find a way out of the quagmire.
When Sommer was arrested outside the Dunkin’ Donut, he was 31. His business was thriving, and he lacked a criminal record. Sommer claimed he was taken to a station house, questioned and beaten.
A judge ordered pretrial hearings to investigate Sommer’s claims, and the defendant was given a $5,000 settlement according to court records. Sommer was offered, and rejected, a plea deal which would have freed him. “I believed in the justice system,” Sommer says today.
Sommer would spend the next twenty-years to life in prison for the first-degree murder conviction.
“I want to clear my name at trial,” Sommer said recently. “If they [law enforcement] want to settle, the only way I’ll accept money is if they write the reason on the front of the check.”
Merriam Webster says the definition of ‘exonerate’ is to clear from accusation or blame.
Helping former inmates find exoneration has been the goal and purpose of “The Innocence Project” since it’s founding in New York in 1992 by Barry Scheck.
Nationally over 351 persons, wrongfully convicted, have been cleared by the agency’s work. Twenty of those spent time on death row.
The success of the project has fueled America’s opposition to the death penalty and has been cited by Brian Rosenthal writing in “Death Penalty Moratoria” as a factor in some U.S. states placing a moratorium on executions.
About 3,000 prisoners write to the Innocence Project each year. At any moment the Innocence Project evaluates between 6,000 and 8,000 potential cases.
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Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein has been accused of sexual assault from countless women in the entertainment industry, and more and more actresses are speaking out about his alleged actions. While there is overwhelming evidence regarding these accusations, Weinstein is still being held to a unique standard in terms of the law. Intent has not yet been established, according to deputy Karen Friedman Agnifilo. However, we believe this is simply laughable as sex crime arrests are common with far less evidence than that of which is presented to Weinstein.
Our very own Attorney Richard Southard was asked to comment regarding this shocking unfolding of events, and commented to the New York Daily News: “I think it’s completely hypocritical that they say that they can't infer intent when someone's a millionaire but when it's an average person they have no problem inferring intent and putting it in motion papers.” Our legal team is of the belief that it is absolutely troubling a member of the Hollywood elite is able to avoid these consequences so comfortably, while the average person is quickly thrown into jail and has all of their freedoms stripped in an instant.
Contact Our New York Criminal Defense Lawyers Today
If you have been accused or charged with a sex crime, there is so much at risk for you and your loved ones. Not only will you face intense backlash in your personal and professional life, but your reputation and freedom will be tarnished for years to come. This is why our legal team of the Law Office of Richard Southard is dedicated to advocating on your behalf, until your case is resolved. For a trusted New York criminal defense attorney, look no further than our prestigious firm.
Interested in speaking to a member of our firm? Don’t hesitate to contact us by calling (888) 493-9858.
The allegations of sexual assault are still rolling in. Harvey Weinstein, the fallen movie producer, finds that women are again lining up to accuse him of rape, crude behavior and “forcible touching.”
The latest accusation came recently from Mimi Haley who joined her attorney Gloria Allred in New York Daily News interview.
“There’s no decision yet,” Allred said when asked about Haley’s willingness to meet with law enforcement authorities probing other accusations against Weinstein.
One legal expert believes Haley accusation could lead to criminal charges against Weinstein despite having supposedly occurred over a decade ago. New York does not have a statute of limitations for first-degree unlawful sex acts. Cases which were still active on June 23, 2006, when the law was changed are allowed to be grandfathered in.
In a lawsuit filed by Dominique Huett, an aspiring New York actress, Weinstein is accused of luring her to his room at the Peninsula Hotel in 2010 under the pretext of a business meeting.
When Huett walked into Weinstein’s hotel room, she found the movie mogul clad in a bathrobe. The producer first asked for — and then demanded — she give him a massage.
Huett’s lawsuit names Weinstein Company as the sole defendant. Weinsteins brother, and co-owner claimed he had tried over the years to warn off Weinstein and suggested the mogul “modify” his behavior.
Weinstein’s behavior has thrust a new term onto the front pages.
Most forcible touching crimes are misdemeanors in New York. In some situations the crime rises to the felony level. Some forcible touching crimes might trigger sex offender status and require the offender register with the Sex Offender Registry.
If Weinstein is convicted of forcible touching, he will be required to:
- Frequently report his residential location,
- Notify law enforcement of any change of address, and
- Have updated photographs taken at the nearest police department.
If Weinstein fails to comply, he commits a felony.
What Is Forcible Touching
Forcible touching is when a person:
- Intentionally forcibly touches the intimate parts of another person for the purpose of degrading or abusing that person, or
- Gratifying the offender’s sexual desire, or
- Touches/rubs his intimate body parts, clothed or not, against any body part of another person.
New York Penal Law Section 130.52 lists forcible touching as bringing up to a one year behind bars, and the District Attorney is not allowed to offer a non-criminal plea — even for a first-time offender.
Maybe Harvey should have paid more attention to his brother.
Judge Anthony Ferrara, a Manhattan judge, was demoted following a heated argument with another judge. Ferrara started throwing “expletive deleted” in the courtroom. Ferrara, who had planned on retiring in November, was banned until he retires.
Judge Felicia Mennin was hearing a series of narcotics and gun arraignments in Manhattan’s Supreme Court on October 11 when Ferrera barged in demanding help in finding an AWOL attorney.
Mennin guided Ferrera to a side room, but the chat didn’t stay private as voices escalated and Ferrera began his string of profanities which are usually considered NSFW (not safe for work).
“F—— you,” Ferrera spat at Mennin.
“F— you too,” Mennin responded.
Ferrara will be busy with “chamber work” until his November 8 departure.
Ferrara isn’t the only grunting gerontological guy to make news with his language.
De Niro Goes Beserk Over A Park Bench
Actor Robert De Niro, no friends of Donald Trump’s, trashed the 45th President at a New York gala. The event was held to dedicate a park bench to the 74-year-old actor.
De Niro has turned trashing Trump into a second career and said he wouldn’t “permit Trump to sit on his bench.” De Niro didn’t ban his life-long friend — accused serial rapist — Harvey Weinstein from having a seat on the bench.
“One of life’s pleasures will be to keep persons off my bench who don’t deserve a view of the park,” said De Niro.
Oscar-winning De Niro tore into the current White House occupant in a profanity-ridden rant: “F— you, Trump!”
While De Niro has trashed Trump before, he remained silent about Weinstein who has been accused of sexual abuse and harassment by more than thirty women.
De Niro last made news in September when he begged leaders at the United Nations to donate to the Caribbean island, Barbuda, following Hurricane Irma.
De Niro forgot to mention he owns a multi-million dollar resort and home on the island.
News Anchor Gets Publicly Shamed
The hit early-morning television show, “The Today Show” fired a producer who leaked video of Lawrence O’Donnell dropping the dreaded F-bombs during an August taping.
Studio executives launched an investigation and found a male editor leaked the tape. The editor who left a “very clear trail” was terminated September 26.
O’Donnell was exasperated by someone “punching buttons” and turning the director’s guidance off and on.
“It’s not my earpiece,” said O’Donnell. “It’s someone punching buttons on my line.”
“F—!!” declared O’Donnell.
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Visit New York and break a law that most residents aren’t aware of and pay a fine. Statutes which may have had a legitimate purpose decades ago are still on the books. Apparently, NY’s city council is too busy figuring out ways to create traffic congestion to eliminate out-of-date laws.
Some of the antiquated, but still on the books, laws include:
Hurl A Ball
An individual is liable of “offensive exhibition” if they operate an event open to the public that includes someone “voluntarily giving in to indignities such as the throwing of balls at his head.” The law had its beginnings when carnival bosses would throw baseballs at carnies — carnival workers. Other sections of the statute forbid throwing knives at an individual or making them dance “without a break” for over eight hours.
Don’t Sell (Some) Animal Fur
Part of New York’s anti-cruelty statutes includes one which makes it criminal to “import, sell, transport or market” dog or cat hair. Traffic in coyote, fox, lynx or wildcat furs and you’re okay.
Flirting? $25 Please
Fluttering eyelids can cost $25. That’s the fine for flirting. The no-flirting edict was aimed at eliminating prostitution.
If New York’s Thin Blue Line decided to tighten up on this law still on the books, half of Brooklyn would be locked up. While most states are withdrawing clothesline limitations as they are now seen as eco-friendly, New York still calls them an eyesore.
No Selfies With Tigers
Since 2014, take a selfie with a Tiger and pay a $500 fine. Manhattan Assemblywoman, Linda Rosenthal brought the action to stop maulings at circuses and fairs where the general public is permitted to snuggle up to large cats.
No Puppet Show
It is unlawful to operate a puppet production in a window. Section 10-114 of the city code nails those who use “any window or open space” in any house for a puppet (or other figures) performance. Host a puppet show and pay a $25 fine and face up to thirty-days in jail.
Ice Cream On Sundays
Theoretically, sweet-toothed outlaws used to avoid the city’s blue laws against consuming ice cream on Sundays. When spotted by a passing cop, the hardened criminal would stick their cone in their pocket.
One Mask To A Person
Watch the parade of costumed panhandlers in Times Square, and you wouldn’t believe it’s unlawful for two or more mask-wearing persons to gather in public. New York Penal Law 240.35 outlaws two or more persons congregating while wearing a mask or any face covering which blocks or hides their identity.
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