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.
On appeal, the defendant argued that the evidence was insufficient to support his guilty verdict. According to the defendant, the court could not provide enough evidence to prove that he had assaulted the victim, thus his conviction should be overturned. The court disagreed with the defendant for several reasons. First, there was plenty of evidence to establish that the victim was a physically disabled person, and thus that he did not have the capacity to defend himself as many other people would. In addition, a former employee who had been working at the time of the incident testified that he saw the victim in time-out and saw the defendant placing the victim in a chokehold. This same witness also saw that the victim had a swollen face and was left in the fetal position, crying and asking for medical help. Given this testimony, the evidence was sufficient to support a finding of assault in the second degree.
The court did agree, however, that the prosecution failed to prove that the defendant himself caused the physical injury to support a verdict of assault in the third degree. Assault in the third degree specifically requires that the State prove that the defendant himself caused the victim’s injuries, and it was still a bit unclear, said the court, whether the defendant or another staff member inflicted the physical injury. Thus, the court decided to affirm all of the convictions except assault in the third degree, reversing this particular conviction but continuing to impose prison time and a fine for the defendant’s conduct.
Have You Been Charged with Assault in New York?
If you are facing assault charges in New York, know that you are not alone and that you have options moving forward. At Tilem & Associates, we are prepared to walk you through possible defense strategies and arrive at a solution that works for you. For your free consultation, call us at 877-377-8666. We are standing by and ready to take your call.