Compounding a Crime in New York
What does it mean to compound a crime?
Compounding a crime is where an individual, usually a victim of a crime, agrees to not pursue criminal charges against a person, in exchange for money or something of value. The law makes it a criminal offense to be on either side of the exchange
Here are some ways that an individual will compound a crime.
- An attorney for a plaintiff in a civil suit contacts the defendant attorney and states that the plaintiff will drop all civil and will not pursue criminal charges in exchange for a generous settlement.
- A police officer pulls over an individual for a DUI. Instead of arresting the individual, the police officer accepts 500 dollars in cash to turn a blind eye.
- An employer finds that one of his employees has been stealing from him. He offers that he would seek criminal charges in exchange for sexual favors.
- A teenager is found to be vandalizing a railroad car. A security guard catches the teen responsible for the vandalism. The security guard agrees not to report the vandalism in exchange for a bag of marijuana.
These are not the only ways that an individual may commit compounding a crime. Also, if an individual attempt to compound a crime, it will be considered the same as if the individual had compounded a crime.
If you or a loved one has been charged with compounding a crime, please call our law offices today. We have helped many people in your situation. We seek to provide the best possible outcomes!
What does New York law say about compounding a crime?
New York law makes it a criminal offense to offer some type of remuneration to prevent criminal charges. It also prohibits an individual from receiving any type of value in exchange for not pursuing criminal charges. Also, in New York, it does not matter if the crime is a felony or a misdemeanor.
Compounding a crime
There are two components to this law. The first part states that an individual is prohibited from making an offer, agreeing, or receiving anything of value specifically to stop pursuing criminal charges. For example:
- Karen is an internal auditor a high-profile financing institution. While performing some audits, she discovers that several executives are engaged in some transactions that are criminal violations of federal law. Instead of reporting the criminal behavior, she speaks to one of the executives and states that she would forget what she found and not report the problems, in exchange for a significant raise. Karen has committed compounding a crime.
The other part of the law states that it is a criminal action if a person gives, or agrees to give, or offers something of value in exchange for that person to not pursue criminal charges. For example:
- Chris is a physician for a rehabilitation clinic. He and the other physicians have decided to bill Medicaid for services not rendered. Bobby discovers the fraud and demands a portion of those fraudulent claims, or he would go to the police. Chris does not want this to be discovered and does not want to go to prison. So, he agrees and starts to give a portion of the proceeds to Bobby. Chris has committed compounding a crime.
Violating the compounding a crime statute is a class A misdemeanor. The penalties associated with this crime are a maximum fine of 1,000 dollars and up to a year in jail. This law also states that any person being prosecuted for compounding a crime can state that they were only seeking what they were owed in restitution. For example:
- Larry owns a local pawn shop. He notices some low-dollar items are missing. He discovers that Lindsay has stolen these items. He tells Lindsay that if she returns the items that he will not report her theft to the police. Larry has committed compounding a crime; however, his defense will be valid since he only sought what he had lost from the theft.
A charge of compounding a crime can have a maximum fine of 1,000 dollars and up to one year in jail. A person may avoid charges if they could demonstrate that the individual was only seeking the proper amount of restitution after being victimized by criminal behavior.
Are there other crimes that may accompany a charge of compounding a crime?
There are a few other crimes that may also accompany a charge of compounding a crime. This is due to the very nature of agreeing to essentially ignore that a crime has occurred and allowed an illegal contract to be formed.
- On the state level, a charge of compounding a crime could also be accompanied by an obstruction governmental administration, criminal liability for the conduct of another, bribery, and coercion. Depending on the circumstances of the charge, an individual could be facing multiple charges of each of these laws for actions related to compounding a crime.
- On the federal level, an individual may be facing a charge of an accomplice after the fact and misprision of a felony. Misprision of a felony is similar to compounding a crime, except it states that the criminal behavior must be a felony, that the person sought to hide the criminal behavior, and failed to report it.
Also, all of the states have some provision in their law that prohibits behaviors that will compound a crime. It is possible to have a charge of compounding a crime in New York, a charge of misprision of a felony, and a charge with a compounding a crime in another state that is all related to the same situation.
If you have any questions or concerns about other laws that could be involved with a charge of compounding a crime, please call our law offices today.
There are various state and federal laws that could accompany a charge of compounding a crime, such as bribery and misprision of a felony.
What have the courts said about compounding a crime?
The courts have looked at a few areas concerning the compounding a crime laws. Most of the cases have been to determine if certain agreements are considered compounding a crime, are these agreements enforceable, and can evidence obtained through compounding a crime be admissible in court.
- In Strauss Linotyping Co. v. Schwalbe, a New York appeals court determined that the actions taken by the plaintiff were considered compounding a crime and the agreement is unenforceable.
The defendant, Max E. Schwalbe, was the former president of Strauss Linotyping Co. Schwalbe eventually left Strauss and opened another business that was in direct competition with Strauss. After discovering the new business being run by Schwalbe, Strauss alleged that Schwalbe had committed several criminal actions against them, including larceny.
Strauss offered to Schwalbe that if he ceased from operating a linotyping business in the area for five years, they would drop the criminal charges. This agreement was accepted, and the criminal charges were quickly dropped. However, Schwalbe did not honor this agreement and continued to operate a linotyping business in the area.
Strauss sought enforcement of the agreement and Schwalbe argued that the agreement was invalid since it was compounding a crime. Strauss also argued that if the agreement was not invalid at its inception, it was valid due to ratification by the parties. The court agreed with Schwalbe.
The court stated that any agreement that compounds a crime is invalid and legally unenforceable. Also, if an agreement is invalid at its inception, it cannot be ratified. The court reversed the decision of the lower court and remanded for a new trial.
If you would like to read the full court opinion, please click here. Or copy and paste the link below.
- In People v. Anonymous B & S,a New York county court determined that evidence discovered via detectives compounding a crime is inadmissible in criminal cases.
The defendants, Anonymous B, and Anonymous S were alleged to have burgled a golf pro shop. The detectives assigned to the case questioned multiple individuals and used a variety of techniques to have the defendants waive their constitutional rights and admit to the burglary.
The defendants circumvented the defendants’ request for legal counsel. The defendants were eventually arrested for the burglary of the golf pro shop. The government sought to use some of the evidence that was uncovered by the detectives’ investigation. The defendants sought to suppress this evidence.
They claimed that since it was only discovered after their constitutional rights were violated, it should be inadmissible in the criminal cases against them. The court agreed. The court stated that if the evidence is uncovered after violating an individual’s constitutional rights, it will be considered “fruit of a poisonous tree” and will not be admissible in court unless the government can show that the evidence would have been obtained from a legitimate means.
The court found that detectives investigation violated the defendants’ 5thand 6thconstitutional rights and that the detectives had committed compounding a crime. Due to this, the evidence related to the detectives’ investigation was suppressed.
To read the full court opinion, please click here. Or copy and paste the link below.
- In Wright v. Secretary, Florida Dept. of Corrections, an individual was able to plead guilty to the lesser offense of compounding a felony.
The defendant, Joel Dale Wright, was convicted of sexually assaulting and murdering a 75-year-old woman. Wright had confessed his activities to a friend, Charles Westberry. Westberry did not notify the authorities. Westberry also went past the victim’s home and assumed that the victim’s body still had not been found.
Wright and Westberry bought various items from the money that had been stolen from the victim’s home. Westberry told his girlfriend of what Wright had confessed, and she alerted the authorities. Westberry was charged with being an accomplice after the fact to murder. He was allowed to plead guilty to the lesser offense of compounding a felony if he chose to answer all questions truthfully.
Westberry also received a contract of immunity from any prosecution for entering the victim’s house after she was deceased. Westberry then testified against Wright in his criminal trial. The court found no problems with Westberry pleading guilty to a lesser offense and receiving a contract of immunity for his cooperation with government prosecutors.
To read this court opinion in full, please click here. Or copy and paste the link below.
Who will investigate allegations of compounding a crime?
The New York Police Department will investigate charges of compounding a crime. Depending on the nature of the crime, the NYPD may also work with several federal agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
I have been charged with compounding a crime, what should I do?
Call us! Our team of attorneys has the skill, knowledge, and experience to represent you and your interests best. The laws surrounding compounding a crime are not always intuitive, and you need a legal team who understands the nuances in the law to help provide the best possible outcomes.
Any criminal charge can exact heavy tolls on loved ones, finances, careers, financial opportunities, and reputations. Even if acquitted or the charges are dropped, these charges can leave lifelong stigmas, and the damage can be irreparable in some instances.
This is why you need a legal team who is interested in providing you help throughout the entire process. They understand what you are going through and can help you each step of the way.