In a recent opinion from a New York court, the defendant in a child sexual assault case lost his appeal after he attempted to argue that the prosecution had behaved unfairly during his trial. The court disagreed, reviewing the prosecutor’s conduct and concluding that it was all acceptable. The defendant’s verdict was thus affirmed and he was sentenced to time in prison.
Facts of the Case
According to the opinion, the victim, a child born in 2009, told another student on the bus to school that the defendant (her mother’s partner) was engaging in sexual conduct with her. Authorities soon learned of this alleged sexual assault, and the defendant was charged with predatory sexual assault against a child as well as attempted rape in the first degree. The County Court dismissed the defendant’s rape charge, but the prosecution proceeded with a jury trial to rule on the predatory sexual assault charge.
As a result of the trial, the defendant was convicted and sentenced to 20 years to life in prison. He subsequently appealed the jury’s verdict.
On appeal, the defendant’s main argument was that during trial, the prosecutor demonstrated what is called prosecutorial misconduct. Basically, said the defendant, the prosecutor made statements during jury selection and opening statements that were unfair to him and that unnecessarily biased the jury. Because the defendant failed to argue during the trial that the prosecutor was acting unfairly, he lost the opportunity to win on the argument that prosecutorial misconduct kept the jury from reaching a fair verdict in his case. What he could do, however, was argue that his defense counsel was supposed to have objected to the prosecutor’s remarks during trial. According to the defendant, because his lawyer failed to make what the defendant viewed as necessary objections, he should be granted a new verdict. It would be interesting but impossible to know if the trial lawyer had made timely objections to the prosecutor’s statements whether the Appellate Court would have ruled differently.
The court disagreed. It reviewed the statements that the prosecutor made during trial and concluded that they were not severe enough to warrant a reversal of the jury’s verdict of guilt. For example, the prosecutor included details in her opening statement that were “sexually explicit” and could have unnecessarily given the jury a poor impression of the defendant. While the defendant took issue with the nature of these comments, the court decided it was acceptable for the prosecutor to include sexually explicit details in her statement to the jury. These details, said the court, appropriately relayed the facts to the jury and were thus appropriate given the nature of the crime committed.
Disagreeing with the defendant’s argument, then, the court ultimately affirmed the defendant’s guilty verdict.
Have You Been Charged with a Sex Crime in New York?
If you are facing criminal charges for sexual assault in New York, it is in your best interest to hire a criminal defense attorney who can advocate aggressively on your behalf. At Tilem & Associates, we offer personalized solutions for your representation so that you can preserve the things you value most. Don’t wait to secure your free and confidential consultation by calling 877-377-8666.