Articles Posted in ASSAULT AND BATTERY

In a recent New York Criminal Assault case which was appealed to the New York Appellate Division, the defendant asked for his guilty conviction to be reversed. Originally, the defendant was found guilty of assault in the second degree after an altercation in a bar one evening. On appeal, he argued that the court should have given the jury the option of deciding that he did not have the necessary guilty intent because he was intoxicated, and his judgment was clouded by alcohol. Although, voluntary intoxication is generally not a defense in New York, Penal Law sec 15.25 makes clear that evidence of intoxication can be used to negate an element of  a crime, such as intent.  The court ultimately agreed with the defendant and reversed the judgment.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant in this case walked into a bar one evening holding a bottle of Heineken beer. He interacted with other patrons of the bar, and witnesses later described his behavior as “loud, obnoxious, and argumentative.” At one point, the bartender asked the defendant if he had a designated driver.

In an unclear string of events that followed, the defendant asked another individual to step outside. At this point, the defendant allegedly assaulted the victim, and he was later charged with assault in the second degree. At trial, the jury found the defendant guilty as charged.

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Recently, an appellate court in New York ruled on a defendant’s appeal in a case involving assault, manslaughter, and reckless endangerment. The defendant in this case argued that the search warrant leading officers to incriminating evidence against him was invalid and that his guilty verdict should be reversed. On appeal, the court disagreed, deciding that the warrant was valid and that the officers did indeed have probable cause to search the defendant. The defendant’s appeal was ultimately denied.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant was driving early one morning in March 2015 when he collided head-on with a tractor-trailer. Police reports indicated that the defendant had been driving in the opposite direction of traffic at 75 miles per hour and that he had consumed several alcoholic beverages before driving. Tragically, two of the passengers in the defendant’s car died from injuries sustained in the accident.

A police officer then applied for a warrant to gain access to the defendant’s blood vials that had been drawn immediately after the accident. The criminal court issued the warrant, and the officer confirmed that the defendant was intoxicated while operating his vehicle.

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In a recent New York criminal assault case, the defendant unsuccessfully appealed his conviction of assault in the first degree. In the appeal, the defendant argued that the prosecution failed to prove his guilt by legally sufficient evidence because his intoxicated state when the crime was committed rendered him incapable of forming the requisite criminal intent. The appeals court denied his case, finding his claim unpreserved for appellate review. Further, the appeals court found that the evidence was legally sufficient to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant manifested the requisite criminal intent. Finally, the appeals court was satisfied that the verdict of guilt was not against the weight of the evidence.  Generally, voluntary intoxication, either by some drug or alcohol, is not a defense to a criminal prosecution except to the extent that it negates the required culpable mental state to commit the crime.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant was involved in an altercation while intoxicated and was subsequently taken into custody by the police. The defendant raised several arguments on appeal. The defendant argued primarily that due to his intoxicated state when the crime was committed, he was incapable of forming the requisite criminal intent. The defendant also contended that the lower court erred in excluding a hearsay statement made to the police after the defendant was taken into custody. Further, the defendant claimed that beyond the hearsay issues, the lower court’s evidentiary ruling deprived him of his constitutional right to present a defense. Finally, the defendant argued that he was deprived of his federal or state constitutional right to the effective assistance of counsel.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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