Newburgh, NY 12550
Newburgh Criminal Defense Attorney John Cobb
1. What services do you provide?
I do mostly criminal defense and civil rights prosecution for false arrest, false imprisonment, and police abuse cases. This includes excessive force and the use of tasers and police dogs without provocation. I also do administrative hearings - liquor license violations, DWI refusal hearings, and civil trials.
2. Please describe your work as a criminal defense lawyer:
This is most of my practice. I really enjoy going to court, and I spend most of my time either in courtrooms or visiting prisoners at Orange County Jail. Most judges like me, although I sometimes get into trouble for defending my clients too aggressively. Since most criminal defendants do not have a lot of money, I try to provide good basic services for the least possible expense. I charge $99 for local criminal appearances, for example, no matter what the charges are. Courts that are farther away cost the same, plus a mileage surcharge.
3. How do you handle traffic tickets?
Most speeding tickets can be pleaded down to a lesser charge, such as parking on the shoulder or a broken speedometer. It really depends upon how bad the initial charge is, what your driving record is like, and the judge’s mood. No lawyer can guarantee any results in a criminal case, but I have a good record. Sometimes I get an outstanding result, such as dismissal or a no points conviction. Other times we have to settle for a non-moving violation and a fine. But I get very few complaints about how cases turn out. It’s usually worth hiring a lawyer to handle even small matters, by the way, because the reduced fine and lesser conviction really helps keeps your insurance rates down. Furthermore, judges almost never give a good deal to a defendant who is representing himself or herself - they just don’t know how to play the game, and the judge doesn’t have a lot of patience to teach them how to play. Like in most professions, rookies generally don’t do very well.
4. What makes a good police abuse/civil rights case?
We have a good record of winning and settling civil rights cases, but we’ve also lost our share. Generally, a good case has the three following factors: innocence, injury, and witnesses. That is, you got seriously hurt, it was not the result of your own wrongdoing or stupidity, and there were other people who will testify about this. It sounds simple - but most cases do not have all three factors. That is why it is hard to win civil rights cases. Judges don’t like them, because you are suing police officers, who are government employees just like the judge. Juries don’t like them either, because they want to believe that police officers are basically good, honest, trustworthy people. They don’t want to believe that cops acted maliciously, or were unfairly violent or cruel towards people in their custody. If you want to convince a jury that a cop is liable for abuse, you really have to show up with a lot of evidence and make it clear beyond a reasonable doubt that the abuse actually took place.
5. Why should somebody hire you as a lawyer?
We really enjoy helping our clients out, and I think we go the extra mile to provide value and good communication. Most people hate lawyers because they cost a lot of money and don’t return phone calls. So, we make sure we don’t charge a lot of money, and the office phone is also our home phone - this guarantees that we will answer your call. Since we live upstairs from our office, we just can’t escape our clients.
What is a Crime?
A crime is any act or omission that violates a law which results in a punishment. Punishments can range from the payment of a fine to incarceration in jail. The level of the offense or crime will usually be set in proportion to the severity of the crime. For example, parking in a two hour parking zone for three hours is a crime. The punishment usually involves the issuance of a ticket and an individual paying a fine. On the other end, robbing someone at gun point is a much more severe crime that can result in a lengthy prison sentence. If a statute merely encourages a conduct, but does not provide a punishment, then a violation is not generally considered a crime, even though you may be exposed to some type of civil liability. For example, many family codes have general policy statements that encourage parents to resolve custody disputes in a friendly manner. If the custody battle turns ugly, a violation of the general policy rule, by itself, is not a crime because there is not a defined punishment.
Which specific acts or omissions constitute "crimes" depends on the governmental bodies where you live. Most likely you will be subject to three sets of laws at any given time. The first set is defined by federal statute. The second set is outlined by your state government. The third set are laws are enacted by local government and are commonly referred to as municipal ordinances. Local rules focus on the conduct that the local community expects people to abide by like speed limits in school zones and noise control at certain hours. If there is ever a conflict in federal law with a state or local rule, federal law will generally control.
Most crimes require that you complete an affirmative act before you can be punished for the conduct. If you store drugs in the pocket of your jacket, you affirmatively possess a controlled substance. Some crimes, ironically, punish for omissions. For example, if you are aware that your boyfriend is physically abusing your child, you could be charged for failing to report child abuse. The basis of the crime isn’t what you did, but rather what you failed to do.
The Role of Intent
Many people also assume that crimes are the result of an intentional conduct. Like noted above, if you intentionally had drugs, you could be punished for the intent of your conduct. However, many crimes can involve negligent conduct. Speeding is probably the best example. A good number of people never really intend to speed. They just (for instance) get caught up in their favorite song and never notice that they depressed the accelerator a bit too much. But regardless of the intent, they are still liable for the speeding ticket. Another crime which has been growing in momentum is using a cell phone while driving. Because of the number of children injured, many states and communities have begun enacting laws which prohibit you from driving in a school zone while using a cell phone. If you injure a child while going through a school zone and using a cell phone, you could be charged for negligently causing injuries to the child. You did not intend to hurt the child, but because of your negligence, you could still be criminally prosecuted and punished.