Court Discusses “Depraved Indifference” Sub-Section of New York Aggravated Assault Statute

Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a New York aggravated assault case requiring the court to discuss the “depraved indifference” sub-section of the New York aggravated assault statute. Ultimately, the court rejected the defendant’s argument that the prosecution failed to establish that the defendant’s mindset at the time of the commission of the crime met the requirement of showing a “depraved indifference for human life.”

Assault in the First Degree

In New York, there are several sub-sections under which someone can be charged with aggravated assault. Sub-section § 120.10(3) states that “a person is guilty of assault in the first degree when … [u]nder circumstances evincing a depraved indifference to human life, [the defendant] recklessly engages in conduct which creates a grave risk of death to another person, and thereby causes serious physical injury to another person.”

The Facts of the Case

The complaining witness lived with the defendant. One day, the defendant called the complaining witness’s mother, explaining that the complaining witness was acting odd and banging her head against the wall. Over the course of the next few weeks, several people visited the complaining witness’s residence, suggesting that the defendant take her in to get medical treatment. The defendant explained he was hesitant because he did not want to be blamed for her injuries.

The defendant eventually allowed a visitor to call 911, and when paramedics arrived they noticed that the complaining witness was in serious condition. The EMTs asked the complaining witness if she was afraid, and she responded that she was. They later asked if the defendant had caused her injuries, and she against responded affirmatively. At the hospital, the victim fell into a coma and, although she later awoke from the coma, she suffered serious, life-long health issues as a result of her injuries.

The defendant was charged with aggravated assault of the first degree, under sub-section § 120.10(3). He was found guilty and later appealed, arguing that there was insufficient evidence that he possessed a “depraved indifference to human life.” The court, however, disagreed and affirmed his conviction.

In so doing, the court explained that here, the victim’s injuries were the product of a two-month long course of abuse. Additionally, the court noted that the defendant attempted to cover up the complaining witness’s injuries by claiming they were self-inflicted. This, the court explained, prevented the complaining witness from getting medical attention, which could have been a reason her injuries were exacerbated.

Have You Been Arrested and Charged with a New York Crime?

If you have recently been arrested and charged with a serious New York crime, you should immediately reach out to the New York criminal defense firm of Tilem & Associates. At Tilem & Associates, we represent those charged with all serious New York felony offenses. We pride ourselves in providing client-centered representation, regardless of the seriousness of the offense. To learn more, call 877-377-8666 to schedule your consultation today.

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