New York Appellate Court Reverses Second-Time Violent Offender Classification Based on Improper Sentencing

New York Criminal Lawyers know that Sentencing is one of the most critical aspects of any criminal prosecution. During this phase, the court will consider many different factors and determine the appropriate sentence for the defendant. There are many types of sentences from which a judge can choose, but in some cases, the judge is required to impose certain mandatory minimum sentences. As a recent appellate opinion shows, having a seasoned New York criminal defense lawyer by your side during sentencing can make all of the difference.

The facts of the case are as follows. The defendant was convicted of two counts of violent robbery in November 2010. In 1994, however, the defendant had been convicted of a class B violent felony assault in the first degree. Initially, the defendant was sentenced to probation regarding the 1994 conviction. Following a probation violation, however, he was resentenced to a prison term.

During sentencing regarding the 2010 charge, an issue arose regarding whether his 1994 conviction constituted a predicate violent felony offense for the purpose of sentencing him as a second-time violent felony offender regarding the 2010 convictions. More specifically, the court was asked to decide whether the date of the first sentence imposed for the 1994 crime in lieu of the date of the resentencing imposed for the 1994 crime should be used to determine whether the prior conviction fell within the 10-year look-back period specified in New York’s violent felony offender statute.

At the initial sentencing hearing for the 2010 robbery, the prosecution urged the court to treat the defendant as a second-time violent felony offender, based on its assertion that the date of the resentencing fell within the 10-year window. The lower court agreed with this position and sentenced the defendant as a second-time violent felony offender. This classification carries harsher sentences that the judge must impose in lieu of more lenient sentences for a first-time violent felony offender. The defendant appealed.

On review, the appellate court reversed the lower court’s sentence, finding that the controlling date for the purposes of sentencing for the defendant’s 2010 conviction was the original date of the 1994 sentencing–rather than the resentencing. The court rejected the prosecution’s assertion that the defendant was essentially sentenced twice regarding the 1994 modification. Instead, the appellate court noted that the period of probation initially imposed on the defendant was part of a revocable sentence that may be altered or revoked. At the same time, New York courts have made it clear that tentative punishments are considered final judgments of conviction.

If you are facing a criminal prosecution or involved in a criminal investigation, it is essential that you speak with a knowledgeable New York City criminal defense lawyer immediately. It may seem like a good idea to speak with the authorities in an attempt to clear your name, but the authorities do not always have your best interests in mind. At Tilem & Associates, we have assisted many New York residents with understanding their rights and with ensuring that they receive the fair treatment that they deserve. Our team of legal advocates provides a free and confidential consultation to help you learn more about your legal options. Call us now at 1-877-377-8666 or contact us online to get started.

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