“I was staying at a hotel in the City of Buffalo but I didn’t pay the room charges for the past two weeks. When I was out driving to Kenmore for a doctors appointment, the hotel desk clerk allowed the Buffalo Police to search my room. Police found some weed and I was charged with possession. Since I didn’t pay my room charges, does that mean the hotel clerk could allow the cops to search my room?”


Under New York State law, while the general rule is that a warrantless search is invalid, this rule has many exceptions. One exception where a warrantless search could be valid is where a person with authority to consent, in fact, provides the police with consent to search the premises.

images (1)

In the case above, a guest is entitled to exclusive possession of the room and a hotel keeper does not have the power to consent to the search of the room. This is the case even if the guest is overdue in his payments.

Given the facts and the relevant law in New York, in all likelihood, such evidence could not be used against you.

For more questions, contact a Buffalo Criminal Defense Attorney today.

Parental Alienation an unfortunate and all too common occurrence in Upstate New York



In Family Courts, from Ontario County to Monroe County, parental alienation often casts a shadow on bitter custody disputes. Unfortunately, outside of the courtroom, parental alienation is an all too common occurrence in Upstate New York.

Parental alienation occurs when one parent repeatedly denigrates the other parent in an attempt to undermine and interfere with the child’s relationship with that parent. Often, this happens when a parent cannot separate from the conflict with the opposing spouse and focus on the needs of the child. The unfortunate result is the child’s emotional rejection of the targeted parent and the loss of a capable and loving parent from the child’s life.  Indeed, a child’s view of the targeted parent will be almost exclusively negative to the point the parent is demonized and even perceived as evil.

Critically, parental alienation is more than just one incident or a poor way of communicating the ongoing conflict. Parental alienation involves a set of strategies which includes bad-mouthing the other parent, limiting contact with the other parent, eliminating the other parent from the life and mind of the child, rewarding the child for ignoring the opposing parent, and punishing the child for communicating with the other parent. Essentially, it puts a child in a position where he or she must love one parent and hate the other.

every child

The direct result of parental alienation is a very negative impact on the child. Children often suffer fro low self-esteem and self-hatred, lack of trust, depression, and substance abuse and other forms of addiction are widespread, as children lose the capacity to give and accept love from a parent. Self-hatred is particularly disturbing among affected children, as children internalize the hatred targeted toward the alienated parent, are led to believe that the alienated parent did not love or want them, and experience severe guilt related to betraying the alienated parent. Their depression is rooted in feelings of being unloved by one of their parents, and from separation from that parent, while being denied the opportunity to mourn the loss of the parent or to even talk about them. Alienated children typically have conflicted or distant relationships with the alienating parent also, and are at high risk of becoming alienated from their own children.

images (3)

If you feel as though you are being alienated from your child, it is vital that you speak with a New York State Attorney who can help shine a light on what is going on. Oftentimes, a parents engaging in parental alienation will attempt to hide their behaviors and emphasize that the child is simply making a choice. The falsity of these allegations must be shown with specific facts. If you do not currently have a custody order, it is vital that you file a petition in a New York State Family Court to make sure you are not deprived of your parental rights.

Provision in Tax Bill with Disastrous consequences for Adoption Eliminated from Senate Version

download (1)

First, the original provision in the house version harmed families seeking to adopt a child on two fronts. First, if an employer provides financial assistance to a worker adopting a child, that money would be taxed as income starting next year. In 2017, when an employer pays for up to $13,570 in qualified adoption expenses for an employee, the employee pays no taxes on that assistance.

The provision would also repeal the baseline adoption credit, which generally provides taxpayers with a credit of up to $13,570 per eligible child in 2017. Under the current rules, the credit would be phased out for taxpayers with adjusted gross income between $203,540 and $243,540.

As a result of these consequences, many loving parents who adopted a child, were not very happy and they spoke out

download (2)


Following the criticism, the Senate nixed the provision. 


Tax Bill will have huge implications for Alimony


First, if you are already divorced or separated and receiving alimony, Trump’s tax plan does not apply to you. Only individuals divorced or separated after 2017 who receive alimony would be entitled to exclude the alimony they receive from taxable income.

The tax plan does, however, permit individuals who modify the terms of their divorce of separation agreements following 2017 to exclude the money from their taxable income.

But most seasoned Family law attorneys are of the position that eliminating a tax deduction for high-income earners who make alimony payments would have unintended consequences on the low-income earning ex-spouses who receive alimony.

This is because the tax deduction for alimony payors creates a large incentive for high-earning spouses to pay larger alimony payments than they would under Trump’s proposed statutory scheme.

This disparity in alimony payments is not necessarily offset by simply characterizing it as excluded from the recipient’s taxable income. This typically results in the spouse depending on alimony with less cash in the end.


To  read more about the Tax Bill and the implications on alimony, check out this article in the New York Times.

For more information on the implications of the new tax bill on alimony, contact a New York Divorce Attorney today


I live in Rochester New York with my 13 year old child. The father is in prison in Monroe County and has been in and out since before the child was born. The father has never cared for the child nor paid any child support. According to New York State Law, do I need to go to Monroe County Family Court to obtain full custody?


Based on the limited facts you have described, it seems best to file a petition for custody.

It is possible the court could order some amount of limited visitation even though the father is currently serving time in a prison in Monroe County, New York. However, the father would need to show up, argue strongly in favor of it, and put forth facts that show that visitation is in the child’s best interest.

The Monroe County Family Court will, however,  consider that he has played no role in the child’s life for 13 years, he is currently in jail, and he has failed to support the child in any meaningful way. Given these factors, it seems unlikely that the court would award any amount of substantial visitation.

download (1)

Depending on a number of other factors, the court could also find that the father is not “fit” and therefore he could be stripped of his parental rights. In the petition, it is important to clearly state that the father has not played any role in the child’s life and has failed to support him. All off these factors will be considered and even the argument that he has effectively abandoned his parental rights by failing to involve himself in the child’s life. Most importantly, however, you want to show that awarding you full custody and preventing him access to the child is in the child’s best interest. List every fact that you can think of to make this case.

If you have additional questions or concerns, contact a Monroe County Family Law Lawyer Today.

How do you do this all day?


One of the questions commonly asked to those who interact with people have had difficult experiences is referenced above: how do you do this all day? Taking this question a step further, one could ask the professional how do you deal with vicarious trauma all day? Before dealing with it, however, we must understand what vicarious trauma is and what the symptoms are.

Vicarious trauma impacts counselors, therapists, doctors, attorneys, and other people who are attempting to help survivors of trauma. Others refer to the term as “compassion fatigue” or “secondary trauma.” A person is susceptible to vicarious trauma where he or she is exposed to a client who has been exposed to graphic, traumatic experiences.

Basically, this could involve discussions with a client, or a number of clients, who are describing a painful experience. As one study described it here, secondary, or indirect, traumatic exposure is not limited to mental health providers. Anyone who repeatedly and empathically engages with traumatized individuals can be at risk for distress and impairment due to indirect exposure to others’ traumatic material.”

Although some attorneys may experience the feeling as intense anxiety or a strong desire to leave the room, this effect could also be vicarious trauma. In contrast to burnout, however, oftentimes vicarious trauma cannot be remedied merely by taking time off or moving on to a new job. One of the reasons for this, according to this study here, is because vicarious trauma results in a state of tension or preoccupation with clients ‘stories of trauma which leads to a strong need to avoid a client’s trauma history or perhaps experiencing persistent hyper-arousal.
The intensity of vicarious arousal is so strong that it often forces a person to reevaluate herself and her position in the world. Unfortunately, this evaluation is generally through a negative view of the present and future. Under the guise of “objectivity” or simply “describing the way things are,” one may begin to feel lost or even question whether life is a pointless exercise in futility. All of this may feel very “wrong” and scary, but, as research shows, these are the natural effects of experiencing vicarious trauma.

images (2)
Professionals experiencing vicarious trauma may experience painful images and emotions associated with their clients’ traumatic memories and may over time incorporate these memories into their own memory systems. The results of this dynamic, commonly experienced by those who have suffered vicarious trauma, according to research here, have a major impact in the person’s perception of safety, trust, esteem, intimacy, and control. The real life consequences may not just be limited to how the professional interacts with a client, but how the person manages personal relationships. The result is that one’s identity and external experience collide with each other, and if one does not have adequate coping skills, the identity will likely give way in a soul crushing experience.

images (4)
All of this is to say, that when a person suffers vicarious trauma, she is responding to experiences which are forcing her to question her beliefs and values. It comes as no surprise that under the weight of such pressure, a person will exhibit varying symptoms.
According to recent research on vicarious trauma, some of these symptoms, as noted in this study here, include: denial of clients’ trauma, over-identification with clients, no time and energy for oneself, feelings of great vulnerability, experiencing insignificant daily events as threatening, feelings of alienation, social withdrawal, disconnection from loved ones, loss of confidence that good is still possible in the world, generalized despair and hopelessness, loss of feeling secure, increased sensitivity to violence, cynicism, feeling disillusioned by humanity, disrupted frame of reference, changes in identity, world view, and spirituality, diminished self-capacities, impaired ego resources, and alterations in sensory experiences.


It is critical for those who have experienced or are experiencing vicarious trauma to recognize the symptoms and seek professional help. Although getting a new job may be helpful, there are no quick fixes. Ultimately, it is imperative to develop coping skills and different ways of thinking which prevent the effects of vicarious trauma from taking firm hold. Commonly, some people will refer to developing coping skills as “self-care” which is simply another way of referring to developing skills to preserve one’s sense of self and identity.
images (1)

Traumatic Experiences: The X Factor in the Attorney-Client Relationship



Regardless of whether an attorney is aware of it, a client’s traumatic experiences will generally have a direct relationship in not only the attorney-client relationship, but also the way the client relates to the court system. According to research on the brain, experiencing a traumatic incident has a distinct physiological effect on the brain, which in turn affects behavior in the short-term and long-term. This phenomenon is colloquially referred to as the “fight, flight, or freeze” evolutionary response.

images (1)

Researchers in the field came to the same conclusion in a study analyzing the brain’s prefrontal cortex. Without digging too far deep, the frontal cortex is key because it’s the part of the brain responsible for decision-making and memory.

Anyway, while a person is experiencing a traumatic event, according to this post here, the part of the brain responsible for decision making often becomes temporarily impaired. In the place of the “higher-reasoning” steps in (or perhaps stomps in) the amygdala. What happens next is the release of stress hormones which help to record particular fragments of sensory information. Bottom line, this process eventually leads a person to experience “tonic immobility,” which produces a sensation of being frozen in place. In fact, some people even experience dissociative states.

What happens after the “tonic immobility” stage is very critical and often has long-term consequences. According to this study focused on traumatic incidents, After the traumatic experience, the brain encodes the traumatic memory and it is stored in the brain via a pathway involving high levels of activity in the amygdala. As a result, when a person recalls a traumatic event, the memory is very powerful and produces similar physical symptoms as what was experienced at the time of the event. Making matters worse, physiological effects of trauma can manifest far after the traumatic incident occurs, as the amygdala does not always discriminate between real dangers and memory from a past dangerous situation.

images (3).jpg

As one can imagine, when a person must constantly “re-live” a traumatic incident and it causes that person to at a certain level “feel” as though the moment is actually occurring, the real-life effects on the person will be far-ranging. Clients who appear combative and argumentative may be behaving in a certain way as a natural result of engaging in the “fight” instinct. Other people may have difficulty showing up to consultations because of “tonic immobility” which if you recall leads a person to feel a sensation of being frozen in place. These effects are real and must be understood.

images (2)

It is also important to understand how traumatic experiences may impact the client’s behavior in the courtroom. For example, if the client has had traumatic incidents involving police officers, it is entirely possible, if not likely, that the client will experience some of the emotions from that incident when he or she sees the police officer in the courtroom. Although an attorney may perceive the courtroom officer as a friendly guy who is just doing his job, the client may be reliving a painful experience possibly involving physical or emotional intimidation. Understanding the far-ranging impact of trauma is a critical part of a lawyer’s job especially when the client’s behavior factors in the decisions made by a judge or jury.

images (4)

The next step to effectively representing clients who have suffered traumatic experiences is developing procedures that are trauma-informed and tailored to avoid putting a client in a position where he or she is “reliving” a painful experience. This will be discussed in the future blog posts.



“I’m still married and living in Buffalo, in Erie County, but my wife lives with my son in Rochester and she is keeping my son. Do I still have to pay? Do I need to go to Erie County Family Court to get a court order?


Most likely, yes, you still have to pay. But you should go to Ontario County Family Court to get an order related to resuming your visitation.

Based on the limited facts provided, the best course of action is probably to bring either a “show cause” hearing, a petition relating to contempt, or a custody petition. However, first, you would need to have a custody order in place. If you are paying child support, I assume you have a custody order. Under the circumstances, the prudent course of action is to go to court, explain the situation to a judge, and get the court to order visitation to remain and you could also bring up the child support payments at that time.

download (1).jpg

Although it may be unlikely that child support payments will be eliminated, under New York’s Domestic Relations Law, you do have the right to apply for relief from your child support obligations, if the custodial parent has interfered with visitation.  Alternatively, if the child has voluntarily abandoned the non-custodial parent (which is you in this case) without any good reason,  your support obligations may also be terminated.

If you have a question or concern regarding a similar matter, call an Ontario County Family Law Attorney today!

“While I was at a mall in Cheektowaga, right outside of Buffalo, New York, I noticed a really nice looking purse. But I didn’t have the money to pay for! In a moment of weakness and without thinking at all, for some reason, I placed the purse under my coat and started walking slowly towards the exit. Just after taking one step, maybe two at most, I realized what I was doing and I couldn’t go through with it. So, I placed the purse down on the counter. That’s when the mall security guard said I committed larceny! Even though I didn’t even walk out of the store with the item!”


Happy women shopping

Unfortunately, in this case, the security guard at the mall in Cheektowaga is correct. In New York State, a person steals property and commits larceny when, with intent to deprive another of property or to appropriate the same to himself or to a third person, he wrongfully takes, obtains or withholds such property from an owner thereof.

Here, the crime of larceny was committed when the purse was picked up and moved from its original position. Additionally, the purse is a tangible item owned by another. In this case, that would be the clothing store. The purse was also technically taken without the clothing store’s consent and when you picked up the purse, you also had the intent to take it without paying for the item. Accordingly, all of the elements of larceny are satisfied.

Finally, the fact that you did not exit from the store is not relevant to whether you committed larceny. The crime was complete once you picked up the purse, took a few steps, and placed it in another location. Although it may sound unusual and strange, the fact that you took only a couple of steps with the purse is also not relevant because even the smallest movement will suffice.

That being said, whether this is actually a crime the Erie County DA’s Office will pursue is another question. Even if charges were filed against you based on the facts you have described, it seems like there are good reasons to plead the charges to a violation.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, call a Buffalo Defense Attorney today.

“While I was walking in Buffalo, New York, I saw a man walking around with my briefcase! Suddenly, the man placed MY BRIEFCASE on the bench, then walked into a restaurant. I then ran over, picked up the briefcase, and bolted out the door and drove as fast as I could until I was home. Later, two officers, from the Buffalo Police Department, came to my door and said I was under arrest for larceny and I found out the briefcase really wasn’t mine! Did I commit larceny?”


To be convicted of larceny, in Erie County, New York, the prosecution must not only establish that you physically took the briefcase, but that you did so with the intent to take the property of another. This is because larceny is a “specific intent crime,” which simply means the person taking the property must specifically intend to commit larceny. Therefore, if you believed the briefcase was your own, then the required intent, to take the property of another, is not present.

If you or a loved one you know has found themselves in a similar situation, call a Buffalo Defense Attorney today!