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TILEM & CAMPBELL DISCUSSES CRIMINAL PROCEDURE – A BRIEF INTRODUCTION to the CPL (Sections 1.00 & 1.10)

At the New York Criminal Defense Law Firm of Tilem & Campbell our lawyers recognize that understanding criminal procedure is sometimes as important, if not more important, than understanding the substantive criminal law. Sadly, our criminal defense attorneys will agree that procedure in criminal actions varies drastically from county to county. It even can vary drastically from one local criminal court to another within the same county. That is to say that procedure in New York County (Manhattan) can vary drastically from procedure in Westchester County but even within Westchester County procedure can vary drastically from, for example, the Yonkers local Court to the Greenburgh local Court. Local custom can make the most experienced criminal defense attorney appear like a novice when he or she appears in an unfamiliar court. That is why it is important to utilize lawyers, such as ours, who are familiar with the customs and practices of Courts throughout New York State.

The procedure followed in criminal actions and criminal proceedings in the state courts of New York is found the New York Criminal Procedure Law (CPL). CPL § 1.10. Some provisions of the CPL are specifically applicable under the Family Court Act. See e.g. In re G 68 Misc.2d 80, 326 N.Y.S.2d 483 (N.Y.Fam.Ct. 1971)(provisions of CPL which that fall within the requirements of due process must be applied to juvenile proceedings). The provisions specifically applicable under the Family Court Act will be discussed later. Procedure in federal criminal cases is found in the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.

The CPL became effective September 1, 1971 and replaced the Code of Criminal Procedure. Unlike the Code of Criminal Procedure (the Code), the current CPL is found in the New York State Consolidated Laws. The Criminal Procedure Law is cited as, or in other words referred to as; the C.P.L. NY CPL § 1.00. As with the CPL, the Code was applicable in all criminal actions and proceedings. Code Cr.Proc. § 962.

Cases interpreting and applying the old Code are many times still applicable to, and useful in, analyzing the current CPL. The New York State Legislature originally enacted the Code to make a uniform and comprehensive system of criminal practice throughout the State. People v. Bartone, 12 Misc.2d 926, 172 N.Y.S.2d 976 (N.Y.Co.Ct.1958). The Legislature has the power to create statutes governing the procedure in criminal actions. People v. Cully, 33 N.Y.Crim.R. 219, 167 A.D. 332, 153 N.Y.S. 125 (1st Dept. 1915). Courts construed the Code liberally in an effort to systematize and coordinate the practice and procedure in criminal actions. People v. Bailey, 103 Misc. 366, 171 N.Y.S. 394 (N.Y.Sup.Apr1918).

It is important to note that there are some actions that clearly affect criminal actions and proceedings but are most definitely civil in nature and therefore, guided by the Civil Procedure Laws and Rules (CPLR). For example, habeas corpus proceedings are covered by Article 70 of the CPLR, People ex rel. Curtis v. Kidney, 225 N.Y. 299, 122 N.E. 241 (1919), while mandamus and prohibition actions are governed by Article 78 of the CPLR. However, the CPLR has no application when dealing with procedure in a criminal action or proceeding. People v. Knobel, 94 N.Y.2d 226, 230, 701 N.Y.S.2d 695, 697-98, 723 N.E.2d 550 (1999)