A photograph taken out of context could have led to a felony conviction
Challenge: Our client was a student attending a well-known university in Nassau County, New York. He lived off-campus and did not have a criminal history.
He was engaged in a closed social media chat and, wanting to look tough, demonstrated a severe lack of judgment by taking a picture of a fake automatic weapon he owned. In the same thread, a reference was made to the university. One member of the group chat reported our client to the school’s authorities, who immediately treated the incident as a possible terror threat.
Our client was charged with felony weapons possession and his property was confiscated by law enforcement. He was suspended by the university and was on the verge of expulsion. More importantly, he faced a prison sentence if convicted.
Solution: The client called D’Emilia Law, knowing our reputation for defending innocent people accused of weapons and terror crimes. We knew this was a matter of a gross misunderstanding. Demonstrating it was a bit of an endurance test; for the better part of a year, we engaged in prolonged negotiations with the university, the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office, and other officials.
During this period, the client was not allowed to return to school. Following our advice, he willingly attended psychiatric evaluations and therapy to establish that he had never been a threat to the school or anyone else.
Result: Defending against terror threats in New York is incredibly complex. Our intricate knowledge of the law and deep experience prosecuting suspected terrorists helped us craft a solid defense that the prosecution could not successfully disprove.
D’Emilia Law negotiated a non-criminal disposition for the client. A non-criminal disposition means that, through a plea agreement, the client avoided a criminal conviction. He was thankfully able to return to the university as a student and continue his education.
This case was a reminder of how careful you need to be about what you share and with whom you share it. We live in an era where mass shootings and terrorism are on everyone’s risk radar. A “see something, say something” approach can prevent crimes, but it can also lead to information being taken grossly out of context. The consequences stemming from just one phone call could have destroyed this client’s life, but he thankfully hired the qualified NYC criminal defense lawyers of D’Emilia Law to secure his exoneration.