Articles Posted in SEX CRIMES

In a recent rape case before an appeals court in New York, the defendant asked the court to find that he had received ineffective assistance of counsel during his trial for rape in the second degree. Originally, the defendant was charged by indictment after evidence supported a showing that he had engaged in sexual relations with a 14-year-old girl several times. During the trial, the defendant thought his attorney should have made more objections to the evidence that the State asked the jury to consider. Ultimately, the defendant lost at trial, and he was convicted and sentenced accordingly. On appeal, the court considered the defendant’s argument and disagreed that his counsel was inadequate. The defendant’s conviction was affirmed.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant was a man in his 40s who knew the victim and her family. As the defendant and the victim spent more time together, the defendant disclosed to the victim that he was having trouble in his marriage. Eventually, the defendant and the victim began engaging in sexual relations, and the State police received a report that the defendant was sexually abusing the minor.

When the defendant was charged, he was taken in for an interview with the police. At that point, he was given Miranda warnings, and he cooperated fully with the investigators. Later in the day, the defendant provided a written statement admitting that he had been having sex with the victim in the case.

Continue reading

Criminal prosecutions in New York are confined by constitutional and statutory protections for people accused of crimes in this state. The state rules of evidence and criminal procedure prevent prosecutors from eliciting certain types of testimony and other evidence that is determined to be inadmissible hearsay. Hearsay involves an out-of-court statement, offered for the truth of the matter asserted.  Hearsay is by definition a violation of the confrontation clause of the US Constitution in that it may violate the principle that the accused has the right to confront the witness against the accused.   Although many exceptions to the prohibition on hearsay evidence exist, hearsay evidence manages to find its way into trial in thousands of criminal prosecutions each year.

A New York court recently affirmed the conviction of a man for attempted sexual assault, rejecting the defendant’s arguments that inadmissible hearsay testimony offered at trial should invalidate his conviction. The defendant from the recently decided case was charged with attempted sexual assault after he was reported to have aggressively approached and grabbed a 14-year-old victim while they were in an elevator together. During the trial, the defendant’s attorney objected to the admission of certain portions of a 911 call involving the victim’s neighbor on the basis that the statements were hearsay. The objection was overruled, and the defendant was convicted of the charges.

The defendant appealed his conviction, arguing that the admission of the hearsay evidence was an error, which tainted his conviction. The appellate court agreed with the defendant that the statements should not have been allowed at trial; however, the court found the error was harmless in light of the overwhelming other evidence incriminating the defendant in the charges. The court noted that there were other areas at trial where inadmissible evidence may have been admitted, but the defendant failed to properly address those on appeal, so the court would not disturb the defendant’s conviction.

In a recent New York sexual abuse case, the defendant unsuccessfully argued that he had the right to a jury trial under the U.S. Constitution. After being charged with and several sex crimes, the defendant asked for a jury trial so that he could get a fair hearing before potentially being found guilty, and thus being found deportable back to his country of origin. Because the court of appeals disagreed with the defendant’s main argument, it ultimately denied the appeal.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, an undercover police officer was standing on a train platform in June 2015 when he observed the defendant standing nearby. The defendant seemed to be masturbating, although the officer was not entirely certain what was happening at the time. A few minutes later, the defendant pushed himself onto a nearby woman, then ran away to board a train. Immediately, the defendant pushed himself onto a second woman.

The defendant was charged with two counts of forcible touching, two counts of sexual abuse, and one count of public lewdness. Because the defendant was not a U.S. citizen, he faced the threat of potential deportation if convicted of the crimes. The crimes were Class B misdemeanors, which means that the defendant did not have the right to a jury trial under state law – he could only secure a jury trial if the misdemeanors had been Class A.

Continue reading

In a recent case involving a New York Sex Crime , the defendant successfully appealed his conviction of predatory sexual assault against a child. The defendant was originally found guilty in November 2016, after he went through a jury trial based on his charges and received an unfavorable verdict. He was sentenced to time in prison, but he successfully appealed the decision.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant sexually abused several children below the age of 13 at his residence in New York. The year before he was charged, the defendant watched the children various times in his home, given that the children’s parents were neighbors of his and used the defendant as a babysitter when they had to leave the building. On several different occasions, the children’s parents had dropped them off at the defendant’s home, and he had committed some kind of predatory sexual assault on the children during these visits.

The Opinion

The defendant was convicted of two counts of predatory sexual assault as well as endangering the welfare of a child. On appeal, the defendant argued that the predatory sexual assault conviction should be reversed, and the court ended up agreeing with his argument. According to the defendant, an individual is only guilty of predatory sexual assault against a child in the first degree when he commits the crime at least twice over a period of three months or more. Here, said the defendant, while there was evidence that he had assaulted the children in question, there was insufficient evidence to support the claim that this activity had happened over a period of at least three months. Thus, the defendant’s actions did not align with the definition of the crime, and his conviction should be reversed.

Continue reading

In a recent opinion from a New York court, the defendant in a child sexual assault case lost his appeal after he attempted to argue that the prosecution had behaved unfairly during his trial. The court disagreed, reviewing the prosecutor’s conduct and concluding that it was all acceptable. The defendant’s verdict was thus affirmed and he was sentenced to time in prison.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the victim, a child born in 2009, told another student on the bus to school that the defendant (her mother’s partner) was engaging in sexual conduct with her. Authorities soon learned of this alleged sexual assault, and the defendant was charged with predatory sexual assault against a child as well as attempted rape in the first degree. The County Court dismissed the defendant’s rape charge, but the prosecution proceeded with a jury trial to rule on the predatory sexual assault charge.

As a result of the trial, the defendant was convicted and sentenced to 20 years to life in prison. He subsequently appealed the jury’s verdict.

Continue reading

When juries are given the ability to determine a defendant’s guilt, the stigma of the crimes alleged sometimes plays a larger factor in the jury’s decision than evaluation of the required elements of the crime. Because of this, it is extremely important in the administration of criminal justice that juries are only allowed to convict defendants of crimes that are legally possible based upon the allegations of the criminal complaint and the evidence presented at trial. The Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court recently addressed a defendant’s appeal from several New York sex crime convictions, which claimed the evidence against him was legally insufficient to support the convictions.

The defendant in the recently decided case was convicted of first degree sexual abuse after he allegedly made sexual contact with the victim without their consent. Before the trial, the defendant objected to being tried for first-degree sexual abuse, as that charge required a showing that force or compulsion was used to affect the sexual abuse. Additionally, the defendant appealed a conviction for first-degree sexual assault that was handed down based upon his touching two parts of the victim’s body during the same occurrence. The defendant’s pretrial motions were denied, and the defendant was ultimately convicted of the crimes, along with several others stemming from the same criminal episode.

The defendant appealed his convictions to the Appellate Division, arguing that the evidence presented at trial was legally insufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant subjected the victim to sexual abuse using forcible compulsion. The Appellate Division agreed with the defendant’s arguments, finding that there was not any evidence presented at trial with which a jury could find that forcible compulsion was used. The Appellate Division reduced this conviction to a third-degree sexual assault, which was supported by ample evidence presented at trial. Additionally, the court found that the two separate counts stemming from the same occurrence should not have resulted in two convictions and vacated one of the convictions outright. The defendant’s other arguments were rejected by the court.

In New York, sex crimes vary in type, degree, and consequences. To know the law and know where you stand, it is important to familiarize yourself with the various elements of each crime. Staying informed and hiring an experienced sex crimes defense lawyer are the best ways to guarantee you are treated fairly if convicted.

Below is a very brief breakdown of the many of the sex crimes in New York.  Other charges involving Unlawful Surveillance, and Child Pornography charges are found in other places in the penal law but may require registration as a sex offender upon a conviction.

Sexual misconduct is a broad term, and it happens when one person engages in any kind of sexual conduct with another party, without that second party’s consent. Sexual abuse is a second broad offense that involves what New York law calls “forcible compulsion” – forcing someone into a sexual act either by physical force or the threat of force.

Criminal Sexual Act

A criminal sexual act is slightly more specific: in the first degree, a criminal sexual act means that one person has engaged in oral sexual conduct or anal sexual conduct by force or with someone less than thirteen years old. In the second degree, a criminal sexual act occurs when a person engages in the same kind of conduct with a person less than fifteen years old; in the third degree, the crime comes up when the second party is less than seventeen years old. Punishments for a criminal sexual act vary greatly – for the first degree, defendants can face sentences between five and twenty-five years in prison, whereas for the third degree, punishments are typically one to four years in prison.

Continue reading

Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a New York child abuse case requiring the court to determine if an interview conducted by a child protective services caseworker was in violation of the defendant’s right to counsel. Ultimately, the court determined that the interview was indeed a violation of the defendant’s right to counsel and ordered the suppression of all statements obtained from the interview.

Generally, when someone is under investigation for a crime, they have the right to have an attorney present when they are questioned. However, the law surrounding this area is quite nuanced, and there is much litigation over exactly when someone is under investigation and what constitutes “questioning.”

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, a Child Protective Services (CPS) caseworker interviewed the defendant while he was in custody for criminal charges. At the time, the caseworker had been working on a task force with law enforcement agencies where she received training on how to interview individuals who are accused of committing sexual offenses. The caseworker was aware that the defendant was being represented by counsel for his criminal matter, but no counsel was present during this interview. During the interview, the defendant admitted to having sexual contact with the victim. The prosecution intended to use this statement at the defendant’s trial.

Continue reading

The COVID-19 pandemic had a profound impact on the country and its ability to function. However, the effect of the pandemic was felt the hardest in New York City. As the number of new cases continues to decline, government functions are starting to resume. Of course, this includes New York criminal trials, which truly represent the backbone of our criminal justice system.

New York courts will need to deal with many challenges as they begin to hear more cases. The old way of doing things may no longer make sense, with jurors, defendants and supporters all crammed into crowded courthouses. Thus, judges, lawmakers, and court administration will need to come up with solutions to address these issues which are consistent with the constitutional mandate for a speedy and public jury trial.   It is critical that whatever new procedures are used, these procedures respect the constitutional rights of defendants.

One issue courts are wrestling with is how to handle live witness testimony. Many witnesses are already reluctant to take the stand and testify at trial. However, with the threat of COVID-19, even fewer witnesses will likely be willing to come to court. Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a rape case in which an expert witness was permitted to testify over two-way video. The case contains an interesting and important discussion of a defendant’s right to confront the witnesses against him.

Sex offenses are serious crimes, and a conviction for a New York sex crime can carry with it many repercussions aside from potential jail time. One of the most onerous consequences for those who have been convicted of a sex offense is the requirement that they register as a sex offender with the Division of Criminal Justice Services. Depending on the type of offense, a defendant may be required to register for a certain number of years, or for life.

The specific requirements that a defendant is subject to depends on the type of crime for which they were convicted. However, registration requirements are notoriously complex. Indeed, it is not uncommon for someone who is subject to registration requirements to violate the law without knowing that they have failed to comply with the registration requirements. This can result in an entirely separate crime, called a failure-to-register offense. A recent state appellate decision discusses New York sex offender registration requirements as they pertain to social media accounts.

According to the court’s opinion, the defendant was previously convicted of an offense that classified him as a level-three sex offender. As a result, the defendant had to register “any change of address, internet accounts with internet access providers belonging to such offender, [or] internet identifiers.” New York law defines an internet identifier as “electronic mail addresses and designations used for the purposes of chat, instant messaging, social networking or other similar internet communication.”

Contact Information