Queens County Bar Association
Martindale Hubbell - Distinguished 2023

Incidents of Auto-Theft Have Declined Rapidly Over the Past Few Years

Interviewer: Is auto theft still something that is prevalent with GPS and car locks, and things of that nature?

Martin Kane: No; actually it’s exactly the opposite. Twenty years ago, auto theft was very, very common. I used to handle a lot of cases involving auto theft — usually they would be serious felonies based on the value of the car — and they were extremely prevalent. In the last several years, there are practically no cases involving auto crimes. I would say it’s maybe 10 percent of what it would’ve been, say 20 years ago. And the reason is because cars are set up where they have microchips in their keys, and it’s almost impossible to steal a car now — and it’s very easy to trace a car, it’s very easy to trace car parts. And the fact of the matter is that we see very, very few auto theft crimes these days. I don’t think I’ve seen one in my practice in over a year.

That is something — the automobile companies have done a good job of protecting cars. And almost all of the cases that you do see involve older cars, prior to 1996, which is when they started using these more sophisticated microchip ignitions. And of the cars that are stolen, the most are probably Hondas that are pre-1996, because they’re very reliable cars and there are still a lot of them on the road. But they don’t have a huge amount of value anymore, and it’s just not worthwhile for thieves to steal cars anymore.

Bounced Checks Are Mostly Handled In Civil Courts, And In Some Instances They’re Treated As A Criminal Offense

Interviewer: What about hot checks? People who may have had a check that bounced or something of that nature: Could they be charged?

Martin Kane: Yes they can. That’s a whole other thing. If you bounce a check — in other words if you give somebody a check and there’s not enough to cover it, and the check bounces — the maker of the check can be charged. But first he has to be given notice that the check bounced, and a certain period of time has to elapse where the maker of the check can make good on the check. Again it’s very difficult to get the police to make an arrest in cases like that. Something somewhat more serious is when you give somebody a check on a nonexistent or a closed account — then you’ve basically given them a piece of paper that is worthless. In any event, they’ll constitute a crime without having to give notice. But we don’t see a lot of those cases because usually they’re handled more civilly, and again it’s hard to get the police or the district attorney’s office involved in the case if the amount is not large.

White Collar Crimes Generally Include Bank Fraud And Securities Violations

Interviewer: What are some other examples of white collar theft, or what people refer to as white collar theft?

Martin Kane: Well, white collar — first of all we don’t — when you think about white collar crimes you’re usually talking about bank fraud cases where there are securities violations — that’s a whole other world. Almost always they are federal cases, but we do see some cases. A lot of them involve very large companies; when you have a bidding scandal or rigging, and where a company may be refunding money on one job and taking it out of another job — one being a public job and the other being private — so that they can all make some money.

White Collar Crimes Are Usually Very Sophisticated And Treated As Federal Offenses

It’s hard to describe these types of things; they’re usually very sophisticated, and other than the typical bank embezzlement case — you know where the teller … those cases are simple. Or cases where people put checks into banks, usually on behalf of somebody else, and cash them when the check is not good. I guess those will be categorized as white collar crimes as well. And we do see quite a bit of that. In those cases many times the issue — if somebody comes to me, usually it’s a woman and usually it’s somebody whose boyfriend or somebody asked her to cash checks — because they don’t have an account of their own. Turns out the bank is cashing checks that turn out to be stolen or elicited in some other manner, and of course the woman is the one who winds up getting arrested. She’d have a good defense because she doesn’t know it, and once again, as I said before, intent is an essential element of any criminal act — you have to know that what you’re doing is outside the law; at least you have to know what the conduct is, and in this case the fact is that these checks were bad. If you don’t know it, you haven’t committed a crime.

Contact The Law Office of Martin D. Kane at (718) 793-5700 to find out more about what we can do for you.

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