New York Court Denies Defendant’s Appeal in Burglary Case, Despite Questionable Use of Security Footage

In a July 2023 burglary case before the Appellate Division, Second Department in New York, the defendant highlighted possible issues in identifying a suspect through surveillance footage. This case involved a defendant who was charged with and eventually convicted of Burglary in the Second Degree. The defendant appealed his conviction, arguing in part that the trial court made a mistake when it allowed non-eyewitnesses to identify him in a home surveillance video as the person who had committed the burglary. Looking at the trial court’s record, the higher court denied the defendant’s appeal.

The Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant broke into a home one evening when the residents were out. He stole several items, all of which he brought back to his bedroom, which was located in a group home for mentally ill adults. The house’s residents had high-tech home surveillance footage, which they shared with the police after the burglary.

The investigators reviewed the footage, and eventually, several of the defendant’s parole officers identified the defendant as the person who committed the robbery. The State charged the defendant with burglary, grand larceny, criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree, petit larceny, and criminal mischief. His case went to trial, and a jury unanimously found him guilty. The court then sentenced him to time in prison as a result.

The Court’s Decision

The defendant appealed, and he primarily argued that the trial court improperly allowed his parole officers to identify him in the surveillance footage. According to the defendant, he could have altered his appearance, and the officers were not physically present at the home when the burglary took place. For these reasons, said the defendant, it was unfair that the parole officers were allowed to be the ones to identify him as the burglar.

The court considered the defendant’s argument but ultimately rejected it. The court concluded that it was reasonable for the parole officers to identify the defendant since they knew him from several in-person interactions and parole meetings. Despite the fact that they were not present for the burglary, they had enough knowledge to know that the defendant was, indeed, the person breaking into the home.

Underlying the appeal was the defendant’s trial attorney who did not preserve the issue of the identification of the defendant by his parole officer and several other issues for appellate review.  Although not preserved, the Court reviewed the issues anyway.  However, this decision also demonstrates the importance of preserving appellate issues by objecting at the time the trial Court makes decisions.

The court, therefore, denied the defendant’s appeal, and his conviction, as well as his sentence, remained in place.

It is also noteworthy that one Judge voted to reduce the defendant’s sentence from 34 years to 17 years.  However, the majority voted to affirm the 34 year sentence.

Are You Facing Burglary Charges in the State of New York?

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