Articles Posted in Criminal Law

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The Court of Appeals held that a correctional facility’s release to prosecutors or law enforcement agencies of recordings of nonprivileged telephone calls made by pretrial detainees, who are notified that their calls will be monitored and recorded, does not violate the Fourth Amendment. Defendant was charged with multiple offenses and committed the custody of the New York City Department of Correction. At trial, the prosecution sought to introduce excerpts of four phone calls Defendant made from prison recorded by DOC containing incriminating statements. Supreme Court admitted the recordings into evidence. The Appellate Division affirmed, concluding that the DOC’s failure to notify Defendant that the recordings of his calls may be turned over to prosecutors did not render the calls inadmissible. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) detainees, who are informed of the monitoring and recording of their calls, have no objectively reasonable constitutional expectation of privacy in the content of those calls; and (2) therefore, a correctional facility does not violate the Fourth Amendment when it records and monitors detainees’ calls and then shares the recordings with law enforcement officials and prosecutors. View "People v. Diaz" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals held that a resentence on a prior conviction, imposed after the original sentence is vacated as illegal, does not reset the date of sentencing for purposes of determining a defendant’s predicate felony status. Defendant was convicted of attempted robbery in the second degree and was later convicted in another county of attempted robbery in the first degree. In both cases, Defendant was erroneously sentenced as a second felony offender. After he served his sentences, Defendant moved to set aside his sentences. The motions were granted and the courts resentenced Defendant accordingly. Defendant then moved to set aside the sentence on his 1993 conviction, arguing that his 1989 convictions were no longer predicate felonies under the statute governing second felony offender status because he was resentenced on both after the commission of the offense underlying the 1993 conviction. Supreme Court granted the motion, and the Appellate Division affirmed, concluding that Defendant must be resentenced as a first-time offender. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the date on which sentence was first imposed upon a prior conviction is the relevant date for purposes of determining when the the sentence upon the prior conviction was imposed for purposes of N.Y. Penal Law 70.06(1)(b)(ii). View "People v. Thomas" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the Appellate Division reversing the judgment of the county court on the basis that Defendant’s sentence was illegal because sentencing courts cannot require a defendant to pay for the cost of electronic monitoring, holding that, as a condition of probation, sentencing courts can require a defendant to wear and pay for a Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitoring (SCRAM) bracelet that measures their alcohol intake. Defendant pleaded guilty to felony driving while intoxicated and aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle. The county courtsentenced Defendant to a term of incarceration, concurrent with five years’ probation. As a condition of his probation, Defendant was required to wear and pay for a SCRAM bracelet. When Defendant stopped paying for the SCRAM bracelet and the bracelet was removed by the monitoring company, the county court revoked Defendant’s probation. The Appellate Division reversed. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that a court may require a defendant to pay the daily expense for an electronic monitoring device that the court has ordered a defendant to wear as a condition of probation. View "People v. Hakes" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the Appellate Division reversing Defendant’s conviction of manslaughter and granting Defendant a new trial, holding that the People’s failure to obtain court permission to resubmit a murder count to a new grand jury after the first grand jury deadlocked on that charge violated N.Y. Crim. Proc. Law 190.75(3), and Supreme Court erred in denying Defendant’s motion to dismiss the murder count in the second indictment on that ground, but the error did not require reversal of Defendant’s conviction. Defendant was charged with manslaughter and two counts of attempted murder. The first grand jury deadlocked on a charge of murder in the second degree. The People subsequently filed a second indictment charging Defendant with murder in the second degree. Defendant proceeded to trial on both indictments and was tried jointly with two codefendants. The jury acquitted Defendant of the murder count contained in the second indictment and convicted Defendant of the manslaughter count contained in the first indictment. The Appellate Division reversed and granted Defendant a new trial on the manslaughter count. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that there was no reasonable possibility that the presence of the murder count during trial influenced the jury’s decision to convict Defendant on the manslaughter count in any meaningful way. View "People v. Allen" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Court of Appeals held that Defendant’s murder of his thirteen-year-old half-sister in Virginia, an offense for which registration is required under Virginia’s Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry Act, Va. Code Ann. 9.1-902, did not render Defendant a sex offender for purposes of the New York State Sex Offender Registry Act (SORA), N.Y. Correct. Law 168-a(2)(d)(ii). N.Y. Correct. Law 168 provides that a person convicted of a felony in any other jurisdiction for which the offender is required to register as a sex offender must also register under SORA. Defendant shot and killed his half-sister and was required to register with the Virginia Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry. Supreme Court determined that when Defendant moved to New York he was required to register under SORA. The Appellate Division reversed and annulled Defendant’s adjudication as a sex offender, concluding that SORA violates Defendant’s substantive due process and equal protection rights. The Court of Appeals affirmed but on other grounds, holding that if a defendant is required to register for a felony committed in a foreign jurisdiction but is not required to do so “as a sex offender,” SORA does not apply. View "People v. Diaz" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Court of Appeals concluded that the Appellate Division erred in holding that the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) had an obligation to provide sex offenders residing in a residential treatment facility (RTF) with substantial assistance in identifying appropriate housing, holding that the agency met its statutory obligation to assist Petitioner in this case. The Board of Parole imposed a special condition on Petitioner’s release requiring him to propose an appropriate Sexual Assault Reform Act (SARA)-compliant residence to be investigated and approved by DOCCS. Because Petitioner was unable to identify a suitable residence by his maximum expiration date, the Board of Parole imposed the condition that Petitioner be transferred to a RTF. Petitioner commenced this N.Y. C.P.L.R. 78 proceeding asserting that DOCCS failed to provide him with assistance in locating housing. The Appellate Court concluded that DOCCS had an affirmative statutory obligation to provide “substantial assistance” to inmates who have been placed in an RTF and who are subject to the mandatory residency restrictions in SARA in locating appropriate housing and that DOCCS failed to satisfy its statutory duty to Petitioner. The Court of Appeals modified the order of the Appellate Division, holding that the Appellate Division erred in imposing a heightened duty of substantial assistance on DOCCS. View "Gonzalez v. Annucci" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals reversed the order of the Appellate Division and directed that a new trial be ordered in this case involving a noncitizen charged with a crime carrying the penalty of deportation, holding (1) a noncitizen defendant who demonstrates that a charged crime carries the potential penalty of deportation is entitled to a jury trial under the Sixth Amendment; and (2) the trial court’s refusal to grant Defendant’s request for a jury trial violated his Sixth Amendment right. Defendant, a noncitizen, was charged with deportable offenses and submitted a motion asserting his right to a jury trial. Supreme Court denied the motion and found Defendant guilty. The Appellate Division affirmed, holding that deportation is a collateral consequence arising out of federal law that does not constitute a criminal penalty for purposes of the Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding (1) collateral consequences attendant to deportation are not categorically excluded form Sixth Amendment protection; (2) the Sixth Amendment mandates a jury trial in the rare situation where a legislature attaches a sufficiently onerous penalty to an offense, whether the penalty is imposed by the state or national legislature; and (3) because Defendant’s offense was a serious one, Defendant was entitled to a jury trial. View "People v. Suazo" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the order of the Appellate Division holding that counterfeit event tickets are written instruments “affect[ing] a legal right, interest, obligation or status” within the meaning of N.Y. Penal Law 170.10(1), thus affirming Defendant’s conviction of multiple counts of criminal possession of a forged instrument in the second degree for selling counterfeit concert tickets. Defendant argued that a counterfeit concert ticket falls outside the ambit of the second-degree forgery statute because a concert ticket does not “affect a legal right, interest, obligation or status” and that the statute contemplates only documents of the same character as a “deed, will, codicil, contract, assignment, commercial instrument, [or] credit card” under section 170.10[1]. The Court of Appeals rejected Defendant’s interpretation, holding (1) an event ticket evidences a revocable license to enter, which is a legal right and changes the holder’s status; and (2) Defendant failed to demonstrate that an event ticket does not belong to the same category as contracts, commercial instruments, and the like. View "People v. Watts" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Court of Appeals held that a defendant is not entitled to a writ of error coram nobis to bypass the limitation set by the legislature in N.Y. Crim. Proc. Law 460.30 in which to file a criminal leave application (CLA) seeking leave to appeal to this Court. This case followed the decision of In People v. Andrews, 23 N.Y.3d 605, 616 (2014), in which the Court of Appeals concluded that counsel’s failure to timely file a CLA to the Court of Appeals within the thirty-day statutory timeframe or move pursuant to CPL 460.30 within the one-year grace period for an extension to cure the error does not constitute ineffective assistance or deprive the defendant of due process. In this case, the Court of Appeals held that because there is no state constitutional right to legal representation on an application for leave to appeal to this Court, Defendant could not seek relief in coram nobis to negate the one-year time limitation on the remedy provided in CPL 460.30 for his attorney’s failure to file a timely CLA where there was no constitutional violation. View "People v. Grimes" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals reversed the judgment of the Appellate Division remanding this criminal case for a new trial, holding that the trial court’s determination that Defendant’s request to proceed pro se, made near the conclusion of jury selection, was untimely was not in error. The day after the parties began jury selection, Defendant voluntarily appeared and, for the first time, asked to represent himself. The trial court rejected Defendant’s request to proceed pro se, concluding that it was too late to make the request. Defendant was ultimately convicted of assault in the first degree and criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree. The Appellate Division reversed, concluding that Defendant’s requests to represent himself were timely because they occurred before opening statements. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding (1) a request to represent oneself in a criminal trial is timely where the application to proceed pro se is made before the trial commences; and (2) therefore, the trial court properly determined that Defendant’s request to represent himself was untimely. View "People v. Crespo" on Justia Law