Examples Of Violent Crimes, Homicide And Arson In NY

Interviewer: What are some examples of violent crimes, homicide and arson?

Glen Malia: Arson, there's a couple different levels of arson. You can have arson, for example, someone trying to just burn someone's car. Actually, I had a case where someone put a rag into a person's gas tank and lit the rag and a fire. They tried to burn the person's car. That's one level of arson.  The other arson that many people just automatically think of is burning down a house, whether you're burning down somebody's house, whether you’re singing the song, Burning Down the House. I can't remember who did that. Or whether you're burning down your own house and trying for the insurance proceeds or something of that nature. That brings about another crime. That brings around insurance fraud. That's the arson. Basically, arson is setting fire to somebody else's property.

In New York State Violent Crime Charges are Classified By the Statutes

Violent crimes, the interesting thing in New York State, violent crimes are involving more than just what the average person would think of violent crimes. We always think of violent crimes where maybe you threaten someone while doing something. The example, the robbery where you used force to steal some property from somebody. Technically, in New York State, a violent crime is classified by the statutes. Some crimes are violent and some crimes aren't violent. Obviously, homicide, assault, felony assaults are violent crimes. You have to look at the classification. There are some crimes that, depending upon what subdivision you're charged under the crime, it's violent, and some other subdivisions are not violent. For example, there's a certain level of criminal possession of a weapon charge that could be violent, depending what subcategory you're being charge under.

In New York State Violent Crimes Only Applies To Felony Charges

The other thing is in New York State, the terminology "violent crime" only applies to felonies. It doesn't apply to the lesser serious crimes or misdemeanors. There are no, quote, "violent misdemeanors." It's either a misdemeanor or not. Felony is violent. The importance of a violent crime classification for felonies is very, very serious in terms of mandatory prison sentences. If you go to prison on a violent crime, your eligibility for release work programs and also the actual sentencings are more serious for violent crimes in New York State than for non-violent crimes.

Possession of Weapons Charges Can either Be Felony or Misdemeanor in New York State

Interviewer: What about a case where someone was caught with a knife in their pocket and they're accused of a crime, what's that going to fall into?

Glen Malia: A lot depends on what type of knife. In New York State, when it comes to knives, when it comes to possession of weapon charges, weapon possession charges can have misdemeanors or you can have felonies, and there are some weapons that we refer to as per se illegal, that just the mere possession of them is a crime. Among those weapons would be some things that people don't think of as being that bad, chuka sticks, you know, the martial arts chuka sticks or the Kung Fu stars. Then when it comes to knives, a switchblade knife is per se illegal. What's referred to as a gravity knife, that’s a knife that you can sort of flick open easily with just a movement of the wrist is an illegal knife to have. A stiletto is illegal to have. A cane knife, just by having it, is illegal. Those are per se illegal weapons.

The Type of Weapon and History of Prior Charges Determine Whether a Weapons Possession will be Charged as a Felony or Misdemeanor

With a pocket knife, a good old-fashioned Swiss army knife, that's not illegal to possess except under a couple of circumstances. Circumstance number one, if you go to use, if you're possessing with intent to use to commit a crime with it, in other words, you have it and you're going to be threatening and you're going to stab it and you're going to threaten somebody with it to rob from, then that by itself is a crime, is a misdemeanor possession. Then there are some weapons too that if you have a prior misdemeanor conviction you can't possess. It makes any crime, if you have a prior possession and things of that nature. Your standard ordinary pocket knife, it's not a crime to possess. A switchblade knife by itself is a crime to possess. Those are your basic level misdemeanor charge, what they call a Class A Misdemeanor, which is the most serious misdemeanor, but it's not yet a felony.

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