New York Court Denies Defendant’s Appeal in Aggravated Vehicular Assault Case

Recently, an appellate court in New York ruled on a defendant’s appeal in a case involving assault, manslaughter, and reckless endangerment. The defendant in this case argued that the search warrant leading officers to incriminating evidence against him was invalid and that his guilty verdict should be reversed. On appeal, the court disagreed, deciding that the warrant was valid and that the officers did indeed have probable cause to search the defendant. The defendant’s appeal was ultimately denied.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant was driving early one morning in March 2015 when he collided head-on with a tractor-trailer. Police reports indicated that the defendant had been driving in the opposite direction of traffic at 75 miles per hour and that he had consumed several alcoholic beverages before driving. Tragically, two of the passengers in the defendant’s car died from injuries sustained in the accident.

A police officer then applied for a warrant to gain access to the defendant’s blood vials that had been drawn immediately after the accident. The criminal court issued the warrant, and the officer confirmed that the defendant was intoxicated while operating his vehicle.

The defendant was charged with and convicted of four counts of aggravated vehicular homicide, aggravated vehicular assault, manslaughter in the second degree, assault in the second degree, and reckless endangerment.

The Decision

The defendant originally argued that the results of his blood test should be suppressed, but the lower court denied his motion and admitted the evidence at trial. On appeal, the defendant’s main argument was that this lower ruling was incorrect. According to the defendant, a search warrant has to be supported by probable cause, meaning the officer requesting the warrant has to have sufficient grounds to suspect criminal activity. The defendant did not think that the officer in this case had the necessary probable cause when he requested the warrant; thus, the warrant was invalid and the conviction should be overturned.

The court examined the standard for “probable cause,” noting that a warrant application needs sufficient information “to support a reasonable belief that evidence of a crime may be found in a certain place” to be valid. Applying this standard to the facts, the court decided that the officer did in fact have a reasonable belief that the defendant had been drinking alcohol while driving. Apparently, the officer had several sources that indicated the defendant might have been drinking, and the officer cited these sources in his warrant application.

The court thus decided that the warrant application and the warrant were valid. The defendant’s appeal was subsequently denied.

Are You Fighting Criminal Charges in the State of New York?

At Tilem & Associates, we closely study cases that come through the New York appellate courts so that we can understand which arguments will hold up for our clients.  Drinking and driving is very serious in New York with potentially life changing consequences.  If you are fighting criminal charges in the state of New York, the best thing you can do for yourself is to speak with a qualified defense attorney that is well-versed in state law and can help you understand your options. For a free and confidential consultation with one of our lawyers, give us a call at 877-377-8666.

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