The two defendants in this case were eighteen years old when they pleaded guilty to armed felonies. Both defendants were “youths” within the meaning of N.Y. Crim. Proc. Law 720.10(1), had never been convicted of a crime, and would be eligible to be granted youthful offender status but for the fact that their convictions to be replaced by youthful offender adjudications were armed felonies. At issue on appeal was whether the court in the case of each defendant was required to determine on the record if he was an eligible youth due to the existence of one or more factors set forth in section 720.10(3). The Court of Appeals reversed in each case, holding that, when a defendant who would otherwise be an eligible youth has been convicted of an armed felony, the court is required to make a determination on the record as to whether one or more of the section 720.10(3) factors exists and the defendant is therefore an eligible youth, even if the defendant does not request it or has agreed to forgo youthful offender treatment as part of a plea bargain. View "People v. Middlebrooks" on Justia Law
Justia New York Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries
In 2011, Gabriela A., who was fifteen years old, was adjudicated a person in need of supervision (PINS) and placed on probation. Gabriela was later remanded to a detention facility from which she absconded. Several probation officers eventually took Gabriela into custody after Gabriela resisted the officers. Gabriela was then served with a juvenile delinquency petition based on her confrontation with the probation officers. After a fact-finding hearing, Family Court found that Gabriela had committed acts which, if committed by an adult, would constitute the crimes of resisting arrest and obstructing governmental administration. The Appellate Division reversed Family Court’s subsequent dispositional order, vacated the underlying fact-finding order, and dismissed the petition, concluding that Gabriela’s conduct was consistent with PINS behavior, not with juvenile delinquency, and that Family Court “may not do indirectly what it is prohibited from doing directly - placing a PINS in a secure facility.” The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the Appellate Division’s factual findings more nearly comported with the weight of the evidence than Family Court’s findings.View "In re Gabriela A." on Justia Law
When Respondent was fifteen, he was charged with unlawful possession of weapons by persons under sixteen in violation of N.Y. Penal Law 265.05. The charges stemmed from a police officer’s recovery of a machete from Respondent. The Appellate Division found the petition facially insufficient because it did not contain allegations that would have established that the knife Respondent possessed was a “dangerous knife” under section 265.05. Rather, the Appellate Court found that the knife was “utilitarian.” The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that, “while a machete has utilitarian purposes, it would be unreasonable to infer from the statement supporting the petition that Respondent was using the machete for cutting plants.” View "In re Antwaine T." on Justia Law
Defendant, who was seventeen years old at the time, was charged with several counts of felony drug possession. Defendant pleaded guilty to one count of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree and was sentenced to five years in prison plus two years of post-release supervision. Defendant appealed, arguing that the sentencing court erred in failing to address the question of youthful offender treatment at sentencing. The appellate division affirmed, concluding that Defendant waived his right to be considered for youthful offender treatment by failing to request he be treated as a youthful offender. At issue on appeal was N.Y. Crim. Proc. Law 720.20(1), which provides that, where a defendant is eligible to be treated as a youthful offender, the sentencing court must determine whether he is to be so treated. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the statute requires that there be a youthful offender determination in every case where the defendant is eligible even if the defendant fails to request the determination or agrees to forgo it as part of a plea bargain. Remitted for a determination of whether Defendant was a youthful offender. View "People v. Rudolph" on Justia Law
Defendant violated several terms of the youthful offender agreement and, at the subsequent sentencing proceeding, Supreme Court imposed a determinate prison sentence of three and one-half years plus five years of post-release supervision. On appeal, defendant contended that reversal was required under People v Catu. The court held that, having elected to advise defendant of the consequences that might flow from the violation of the youthful offender agreement, Supreme Court referenced only a prison term, omitting any mention of the possibility of post-release supervision, thereby giving defendant an inaccurate impression concerning the sentencing options. Accordingly, the court concluded that reversal and vacatur of the plea was appropriate. View "People v McAlpin" on Justia Law
The Duchess County Department of Social Services ("DSS") filed neglect petitions pursuant to Family Court article 10 against respondents, a mother and a father, alleging that father neglected his children because he was an "untreated" sex offender whose crimes involved victims between 13 and 15 years-old and mother allegedly failed to protect the children from father. At issue was whether there was sufficient evidence to support a finding that respondents' children were neglected pursuant to article 10 of the Family Court Act. The court affirmed the Appellate Division and held that the evidence presented was insufficient to prove neglect where DSS failed to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that father posed an imminent danger to his children and therefore, DSS necessarily failed to prove that mother neglected the children by allowing father to return home.
Defendant was charged with rape in the first degree, rape in the second degree, and three counts of endangering the welfare of a child. At issue was whether the trial court erred in precluding evidence of the victim's sexual conduct around the time of the incident pursuant to New York's rape shield law and in disqualifying one juror and failing to discharge another. The court held that the county court appropriately accepted defendant's argument that evidence of the complainant's sexual conduct would be relevant to his defense if the prosecution introduced evidence of her bruising caused by sexual contact and attributed such evidence to him. The court concluded that such evidence would have been relevant to both charges of rape but the prosecutor decided not to offer evidence of bruising. The court also held that although the county court failed to make a probing inquiry regarding a sworn juror's ability to render an impartial verdict, its discharge was not error as such action was authorized by CPL 270.15(4) and that there was no error in refusing to disqualify a prospective juror due to a former professional relationship with the prosecutor where the relationship was distant in time and limited in nature.