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Charged by Town's code enforcer for building violations and misdemeanor offenses committed by previous owner

Bethpage, NY |

I have been complaining to the Town for years about purchasing a house with major concealed damages, cosmetic repairs / modifications and no permits / C.O.s so the blueprints are not updated on the Town's records. I am unemployed, no reserves as I spent everything on divorce, a house now under foreclosure, unemployment benefits just exhausted, my marriage was discontinued for lack of funds whereas my wife abandoned the household and left me with custody of my under aged kids, etc. To make a long story short, the code enforcer presented me with a summons where some of the codes are not even in their online code book. The building code enforcer and investigations refuse to answer my questions for clarification and elaboration on their charges. The judge denies me legal counsel.

Where can I go to research how to battle these charges as a Pro Se Litigator? Will these charges go on my record as misdemeanors and violations? Is this a criminal matter? Can I sue for damages on a counterclaim (answer)? The paralegal for D.A. refused to reopen my complaints. I am thinking one of the parties is using the code enforcer against me to gain further leverage in the pending lawsuit even though I do not know what I am doing. I was told this case would be dismissed if I could afford a lawyer. Can I write a motion to demand legal representation as it is within my legal rights? Legal aid refuses to answer my voicemails. Please advise. Thank you.

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Attorney answers 1


It sounds like you've been charged with an unclassified Misdemeanor and that is treated as an "A" Misdemeanor, however, usually the punishment is limited because its a code violation. The Town of Oyster Bay is especially egregious in their treatment of homeowners because the head of the Building Department is unyielding and hostile to both homeowners as well as attorneys.

However, the Town attorney is usually a lot more reasonable - especially when you have an attorney representing you in a matter such as this. Unfortunately, when you don't have any funds with which to retain an attorney, it makes it difficult. However, I don't believe you have the right to have an attorney assigned to you, but it would be worth asking for one at county expense since it is a Misdemeanor. I would also demand a jury trial since it is a Misdemeanor and you have the right to a jury. Most jurors feel like you do about the Townships and they may set you free even if you would otherwise be convicted. Its called jury nullification and its the one thing the justice system worries about the most because if all of the juries start to set everyone free, they won't be able to enforce their codes any longer.

I suggest you do whatever it takes to hire your own lawyer and fight this thing to the end and beat them at their own game once and for all.

Good luck.

This answer is not intended to form an attorney/client relationship and any answers do not constitute direct legal advice and should not be followed unless and until you have spoken with an attorney of your choice.

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