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New York Appellate Court Reverses Decision in Case Involving Procedural Errors on Appeal

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As experienced New York criminal defense lawyers, we have seen many cases involving procedural errors. If you believe that your case involved a serious error or mistake that resulted in an improper conviction or determination, you can appeal the decision. To file a proper appeal, however, there are certain steps that you must take to preserve your rights and to ensure that your appeal will be heard. A recent New York appellate opinion discusses some of the requirements involved in making an appeal.

The background of the case involves a temporary protection order issued against the defendant in 2012. The defendant was arraigned on charges involving trespass and disorderly conduct involving a protest that she attended. The temporary order of protection was issued as a condition of bail and instructed the defendant to stay away from a certain military individual who sought the order. Four months later, the defendant was arrested again involving another protest on the ground of violating the temporary order of protection.

At trial, the defendant was convicted of criminal contempt in the second degree and acquitted of the disorderly conduct charge against her. The proceeding was conducted at a court where a stenographer is not present and where no court transcript is maintained. The trial court pronounced its sentence for the defendant’s conviction, and she appealed the same day. The defendant’s appeal documents did not include an affidavit of errors.

Without a court record produced by a stenographer, the defendant’s lawyer conducted diligent efforts to obtain electronic copies of recorded portions of the trial proceedings. Five months after filing the notice of appeal, the defendant filed an order requesting an extension of time to perfect her appeal. Additionally, the defendant asked the court to conclude that transcripts created from the electronic recordings obtained at trial were sufficient for the purpose of providing a trial record. The trial court granted the extension of time.

After considering the merits of the appeal, the trial court modified the judgment upholding the conviction but reducing the defendant’s sentence. The defendant appealed, and the reviewing court reversed the lower court’s modification. In reaching this conclusion, the appellate court noted that the statute that provides defendants with a right to appeal requires the filing of an affidavit of errors as a jurisdictional requirement for taking an appeal from a criminal proceeding where a stenographer was not present. As a result, the initial reviewing court erred in hearing the defendant’s appeal without the affidavit of errors. Since the defendant had filed a motion seeking an extension of time, which included a request to file a late affidavit of errors, the appellate court remanded the matter and instructed the lower court to exercise its discretion regarding the defendant’s request to file a late affidavit of errors.

Being involved in a criminal investigation or facing criminal charges is stressful and disruptive for the individual involved. At Tilem & Associates, our diligent team of New York criminal defense lawyers has assisted numerous defendants with understanding their rights and options in the face of criminal liability. We treat each client with the compassion and dedication that they deserve during this difficult time and will ensure that the authorities play by the rules when it comes to your rights. To schedule your free consultation, call us at 1-877-377-8666 or contact us online.

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