Covid-19 Update: At Tilem & Associates our lawyers are committed to protecting your rights, serving our clients and keeping you safe.

Articles Posted in ASSAULT AND BATTERY

In a recent case coming out of a New York Court, the defendant appealed his convictions for robbery, criminal possession of a weapon, and assault. Originally, the defendant had been found guilty of all three crimes after he was involved in a violent incident in 2017. On appeal, he made several arguments, one of which was that the court lacked sufficient evidence to find him guilty of the violent crimes. The court rejected the defendant’s argument and affirmed the convictions.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant was involved in a drug deal with one other person, who became his co-defendant in this case. While the defendant was participating in what the court later learned was a marijuana purchase, the defendant pulled out his gun and shot two victims who were sitting in their car. Both the defendant and his partner, the co-defendant, were criminally charged, as it was discovered that the two men were accomplices in the gunpoint robbery.

Later, investigators found jail house recorded telephone conversations between the defendant and his accomplice, proving that the two men were at least acquaintances. Considering both this evidence as well as testimony regarding the crimes committed, a jury found the defendant guilty of the following crimes: robbery in the first degree, criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree, assault in the first degree, and assault in the second degree.

Continue reading

In a recent opinion coming out of a New York court, the defendant unsuccessfully appealed his guilty conviction for manslaughter in the first degree. The defendant’s case emerged after he got into a physical altercation with another man. Following the altercation, police showed up at the scene and questioned the defendant extensively. Based on testimony from these officers as well as other people familiar with the incident, the defendant was found guilty. On appeal, he argued that the court had incorrectly instructed the jury on how to proceed in deciding his case. Disagreeing with the defendant, the court eventually affirmed the original verdict.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant was charged with manslaughter in the first degree after he choked another person for several minutes with an intent to cause serious physical injury. After the incident, the defendant spoke to police officers and explicitly admitted that he had choked and strangled the victim. He later spoke with a friend and a cousin, who both testified during the trial that the defendant had admitted the crimes to them soon after.

At trial, the defendant testified that he only briefly grabbed the victim’s neck. According to the defendant, his only goal was to stop the victim from fighting him, and he was acting more out of self-defense than out of aggression.

Continue reading

In a recent case from a New York court, the defendant’s appeal of his assault arrest and conviction was granted in part and denied in part. The defendant was found guilty of assaulting a person with severe physical disabilities, and he was sentenced to time in prison accordingly. On appeal, the defendant argued there was insufficient evidence to support this verdict. The court agreed that one of the defendant’s convictions should be reversed, but affirmed the defendant’s remaining three convictions.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant worked at a residential care facility that houses people with developmental disabilities. In 2014, the defendant and three other staff members were charged after they struck and hit a facility resident. The resident, who had severe disabilities, knocked over his meal and was punished by the defendant by being put in a “time-out” room. Immediately after the defendant and the three other staff members put the victim in time-out, the defendant put the victim in a chokehold, and the three others began punching and kicking the victim.

At trial, the defendant was convicted of endangering the welfare of a physically disabled person in the first degree, assault in the second degree, assault in the third degree, and official misconduct. He was sentenced to time in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Continue reading

Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a New York assault case discussing the required elements of “assault in the first degree.” The case required the court to determine if the prosecution presented legally sufficient evidence to sustain the conviction. The court ultimately held that the prosecution met its burden and upheld the defendant’s conviction.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the defendant was involved in an altercation with two other men. During the altercation, the defendant allegedly struck both men in the head with a hard metal object. One of the men suffered serious injuries, and was transported to the hospital where he underwent a craniotomy and received 40 staples to close the injury to his head. A witness caught the entire incident on video.

The defendant was charged with assault in the first degree, attempted assault of the second degree, and criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree. At trial, a jury convicted the defendant and he was sentenced accordingly. On appeal, the defendant claimed that the evidence presented at trial was legally insufficient to sustain his conviction. He also claimed that there was insufficient evidence to prove that his actions were the cause of the victim’s injuries.

Continue reading

When the government brings criminal charges against a defendant,  that person may have one or more defenses against the crimes charged. In the case of a New York assault crime or assault related charges,  one of the most common defenses is self-defense which in New York is the defense of justification.  Self defense may also apply to many Murder or Manslaughter charges.

In New York, self-defense is a defense. In New York if a defense is raised the prosecutor has the obligation to disprove that defense beyond a reasonable doubt.  Justification, or self-defense is a type of defense in which a defendant claims he committed the acts that would otherwise constitute the offense, but he should not be found in violation of the statute for some other reason. In the case of self-defense, the defendant claims he committed the charged acts for a justifiable reason – specifically, that he was justified in defending himself or a third person.

The defense of self-defense is discussed in Article 35 of the New York Laws. For example, under section 35.10, the use of force upon someone else which might otherwise make out a crime or offense is justifiable and not criminal if the person uses “physical force upon another person in self-defense or defense of a third person.”

In a New York criminal trial, after both parties present their evidence, the judge will instruct the jury on the applicable law. The court’s jury instructions, or jury charge as it is also known, is an essential part of the trial because it frames how the jury will view the case and what questions the jurors must answer. Like other phases of the trial, each side can present proposed jury instructions to the court in hopes of obtaining a favorable instruction.

One of the most important jury instructions in a New York violent crime case is a missing evidence instruction. Missing evidence instructions can be based on physical evidence or witness testimony. A missing witness instruction is when the court explains to the jury that it can “draw an unfavorable inference based on a party’s failure to call a witness who would normally be expected to support that party’s version of events.” A recent case illustrates the importance of a missing witness instruction.

According to the court’s opinion, the victim was walking with her boyfriend as the defendant approached them from behind. As the defendant neared the couple, the victim’s boyfriend saw that the defendant had a gun and pushed the victim out of the way. The victim fell to the ground, and looked up at the defendant as he shot her. The victim was later found by police and identified the defendant.

In May 2019, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a New York homicide case discussing whether the defendant was entitled to a justification, or self-defense, jury instruction. Ultimately, the court concluded that the evidence presented did not support a justification charge, and it rejected the defendant’s claim to the contrary.

A justification charge informs the jury that it can find the defendant was justified in committing what would otherwise be considered a crime. Justification is a defense to a crime under New York Law.  Specifically, the charge explains that “a person may use physical force [if] he/she reasonably believes it to be necessary to defend himself/herself [or someone else] from what he/she reasonably believes to be the use or imminent use of [unlawful] physical force by such individual.” A justification charge can be especially important in cases involving violent crimes.

According to the court’s opinion, the defendant shot and killed his daughter’s boyfriend after the two were involved in a heated argument. Three witnesses testified at trial. Two of the witnesses testified to only viewing a brief portion of the argument. However, the third witness, a postal employee in the process of delivering mail, caught most of the argument.

Self defense cases in New York can be particularly challenging and require a skilled and experienced attorney.  In New York self defense is referred to the defense of justification.  Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a New York assault case discussing the defense of justification. Ultimately, the court reversed the defendant’s conviction for assault in the first degree and ordered a new trial based on the trial court’s failure to instruct the jury appropriately.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the defendant was arrested and charged with attempted murder and several assault charges after he “slashed his roommate across the neck and stabbed him in the abdomen with a large kitchen knife.” Apparently, the alleged assault occurred in the men’s apartment during a physical altercation.

Evidently, the defendant presented evidence suggesting that he was justified in his actions. It is unclear from the court’s opinion the exact nature of the justification defense, but it was most likely self-defense. At the conclusion of the evidence, the court instructed the jury on each of the charged offenses, as well as the defendant’s justification defense.

Continue reading

Earlier this month, a New York appellate court issued a written opinion in a New York assault case involving a motion to suppress the weapon that the defendant allegedly used to assault the complaining witness. The case required the court to discuss a police officer’s legal authority to approach a citizen to investigate a potential crime. Ultimately, the court found that each of the officers’ actions were justified, and affirmed the denial of the defendant’s motion to suppress.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, police officers were in the area of a recent shooting when they saw the defendant and another man “huddling” together. Evidently, there were no other people out on the street around the two men, and the defendant’s hand was in his pocket.

The police were operating without a description of the alleged shooter, and continued to the location of the shooting. After arriving, the officers turned around and began to approach the two men whom they had just passed. As the officers approached, they started walking away at a “high rate of speed.” While the defendant and his companion were walking away from the officers, the officers watched as the defendant discarded an object into an alleyway. The police officers detained the defendant without arresting him while one of the officers went to see what the defendant discarded. Once it was determined that the defendant had dropped a gun, the police arrested the defendant.

Continue reading

Evidence of someone’s prior acts is generally not admissible in a New York criminal trial. However, under The Guide to New York Evidence Sec. 4.21, evidence of past “crimes, wrongs, or other acts” may be admissible under certain limited situations.

Rule 4.21 specifically prohibits the introduction of prior-act evidence when it is being used to show that the defendant acted in conformity with that act, or if it is being used to show that a person had a propensity to act in a certain way. However, when the evidence is being offered for other reasons, such as to show someone’s motive, intent, opportunity, preparation, the existence of a common plan or scheme, knowledge, identity, or to establish the absence of a mistake, the evidence may be admitted if it is more probative than prejudicial.

Judges are left with the discretion to determine if prior-act evidence should be admitted. In a recent New York domestic violence case, an appellate court discussed Rule 4.21 and its application.

Continue reading

Contact Information