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New York Court Denies Defendant’s Appeal in New York Criminal Assault Case, Rejecting Defendant’s Claim That He Lacked Requisite Criminal Intent

In a recent New York criminal assault case, the defendant unsuccessfully appealed his conviction of assault in the first degree. In the appeal, the defendant argued that the prosecution failed to prove his guilt by legally sufficient evidence because his intoxicated state when the crime was committed rendered him incapable of forming the requisite criminal intent. The appeals court denied his case, finding his claim unpreserved for appellate review. Further, the appeals court found that the evidence was legally sufficient to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant manifested the requisite criminal intent. Finally, the appeals court was satisfied that the verdict of guilt was not against the weight of the evidence.  Generally, voluntary intoxication, either by some drug or alcohol, is not a defense to a criminal prosecution except to the extent that it negates the required culpable mental state to commit the crime.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant was involved in an altercation while intoxicated and was subsequently taken into custody by the police. The defendant raised several arguments on appeal. The defendant argued primarily that due to his intoxicated state when the crime was committed, he was incapable of forming the requisite criminal intent. The defendant also contended that the lower court erred in excluding a hearsay statement made to the police after the defendant was taken into custody. Further, the defendant claimed that beyond the hearsay issues, the lower court’s evidentiary ruling deprived him of his constitutional right to present a defense. Finally, the defendant argued that he was deprived of his federal or state constitutional right to the effective assistance of counsel.

The appeals court found that the defendant’s argument that he was incapable of forming the requisite criminal intent was not raised with the lower court and therefore not preserved for appellate review. Regardless, the appeals court found that the evidence was legally sufficient to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant manifested the requisite criminal intent. Additionally, upon reviewing the record, the appeals court was satisfied that the verdict of guilt was not against the weight of the evidence in the lower court decision.

The appeals court further found that the defendant’s claim that hearsay statements were incorrectly excluded by the lower court was not preserved for appellate review. Regardless, the appeals court found the claim to be without merit, disagreeing with the defendant that the statements constituted an excited utterance. The appeals court similarly found that the defendant’s claim that the lower court’s evidentiary ruling against him deprived him of his right to present a defense was not preserved for appellate review, and was without merit. Lastly, the appeals court found based on an examination of the record that the defendant’s claim that he was deprived of his federal or state constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel was without merit. The appeals court stated that the defense counsel’s performance did not fall below an objective standard of reasonableness, and there is no reasonable probability that the outcome of the trial would have been different but for counsel’s alleged errors. The appeals court affirmed the lower court decision, and upheld the sentence, finding that it was not excessive.

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