The Federal and New York State Constitutions provide citizens who are charged with New York crimes certain rights that must be respected. In addition, there are certain statutes that grant New York criminal defendants additional rights. In the event that any government agent – including police and prosecutors – fails to respect these rights, courts have an obligation to take remedial action, up to and including dismissing the charges. In a recent case, a New York appellate court dismissed criminal charges against a defendant based on the government’s failure to provide accurate and timely notice of the charges he faced.The Facts of the Case
On June 27, 2016, the defendant was charged with various crimes after a 12-year-old girl observed him touching his penis while sitting in his vehicle. Initially, the girl told police that she saw the defendant at Northern Boulevard and 106th Street.
On May 8, 2017, the prosecution filed additional charges against the defendant. The prosecution did not change the named location of the alleged offense and specified that the conduct at issue took place between June 17, 2016 and May 5, 2017. The defendant objected to the charges, arguing that they were overly broad, and requested that the prosecution file a document more specifically stating what he was charged with committing and when it was alleged to have occurred.
In response, the prosecution filed a document explaining that the defendant was charged for conduct occurring on June 17, 2016 at the southeast corner of the intersection of Northern Boulevard and 106th Street.
In April 2018, the case was scheduled for trial. At a trial-readiness conference, the prosecution told the court that it planned to proceed on a new theory of the alleged incident. Specifically, it stated that the girl initially saw the defendant at Astoria Boulevard and 97th Street, and he followed her in his van for 10 blocks to a gas station, which was located at Northern Boulevard and 10th Street. It was “in this vicinity,” the prosecution claimed, that the defendant’s illegal conduct occurred.
The defendant objected to the charging instrument, arguing that it was defective in that it named the wrong location and had done so for almost two years. The court agreed and dismissed the case against the defendant. The court explained that it is the prosecution’s burden to provide adequate notice of the charges that are being brought against a defendant so that they can, among other things, prepare a defense.
Here, the court held that the prosecution failed to provide proper notice of the crimes charged. The court noted that the original charging document was incorrect up through the conference immediately prior to trial. The court also rejected the prosecution’s request to amend the charging instrument, holding that to allow it to do so would amount to “procedural juggling.”
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If you have recently been arrested and charged with a serious crime, you should consult with the dedicated New York criminal defense attorneys at the law firm of Tilem & Associates. At Tilem & Associates, we represent those charged with serious crimes and help them defend their freedom through zealous advocacy at every stage. To learn how we can help you with your case, call 877-377-8666 to schedule a free consultation today.