When a New York City corrections officer is accused of misconduct, you need a lawyer for two reasons: for defense in a civil service disciplinary hearing to protect your job and for defense against criminal charges to protect your freedom. You need to win both cases to return your life to normal, and because the outcome of one will affect the other, a coordinated defense strategy is strongly recommended.
Criminal Charges Affecting NYC Corrections Officers
As an example of criminal charges that NYC COs may face, we will use an actual case reported in May 2019. Six COs are accused of conducting illegal strip searches at the Manhattan Detention Complex. In their defense, more than 50 visitors were arrested in 2018 for bringing in prohibited items such as drugs and razors. However, a similar number of visitors have alleged that they were sexually abused by COs during unlawful strip searches. These searches violated Department of Correction policy which requires written consent prior to a search and then only allows “pat frisk” searches.
The six COs have been charged with four crimes under New York state law:
Official misconduct – A class A misdemeanor defined as the unauthorized exercise of an official function, such as a body search, knowing that the action is unauthorized.
Unlawful imprisonment – A class A misdemeanor defined as the unlawful restriction of a person’s movement without their consent. In this case, visitors were restrained with “physical force, intimidation, and deceit.”.
Conspiracy – A class B misdemeanor meaning to agree with one or more other people to engage in a crime. In this case, one officer would order a visitor to sign a consent form and conduct the strip search while other officers looked on.
Filing false documents – A class A misdemeanor defined as filing a document that contains false information, in this case, filing fraudulently-obtained search consent forms and lying on official reports to conceal their misconduct.
NYC Department of Correction Disciplinary Actions
When a CO is charged with a crime involving on-the-job misconduct, they will typically be subject to disciplinary action as defined by the New York civil service code or their union. In the May 2019 case described above, when criminal charges were filed, the accused COs were all suspended by their NYC DOC employer. If convicted, the COs will likely be terminated. Depending on the rules defined in the New York civil service code and/or in the employees’ union contract, the employees are generally entitled to a hearing at which they can dispute the charges.
Why You Want One Lawyer for Both Criminal and Job Defense
When a corrections officer is charged with a crime such as official misconduct, you want one lawyer who knows how to manage the combined effects of criminal charges and civil service disciplinary charges.
Criminal charges. Your lawyer needs to understand how the outcome of the criminal case will affect your job and keep that in mind when negotiating with the prosecutor to get criminal charges and penalties dismissed or reduced.
Civil service disciplinary hearing. Being familiar with the details of your criminal case will help your lawyer prepare the best possible defense for a civil service disciplinary hearing.
Civil service disciplinary appeal. If you were erroneously found guilty of misconduct or given too severe of a penalty, your lawyer will have all the facts needed to file an appeal.
Having the same lawyer supporting you through this entire process is not only cost-efficient but also provides you with the most comprehensive and coordinated defense strategy.
An Elite Manhattan Corrections Officer Defense Lawyer
If you are a corrections officer facing criminal charges related to your job, call a New York City corrections officer defense attorney who will be a powerful advocate for you in both the criminal courts of New York and in civil service disciplinary proceedings. The attorneys of JOEY JACKSON LAW, PLLC have a decades-long track record of success in both venues. Call 833-JOEYJACKSON or 833-563-9522 for an appointment.