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New York Court Precludes Evidence of Defendant’s Psychiatric Evaluation Based on Failure to Provide Adequate Notice

Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a New York robbery case involving a defendant who confessed to robbing a car at gunpoint. The case required the court to determine if the trial court properly excluded evidence suggesting that the defendant was “bipolar, with psychotic features.” Ultimately, the court concluded that the evidence was properly excluded because under New York Code Article 250, notice of intent to provide psychiatric evidence must be given in advance.

The Facts of the Case

The defendant was pulled over by police, and as a result of a search, the police discovered a loaded gun. After police seized the gun, the defendant blurted out that it was a good thing that the police officer quickly drew his gun because otherwise the defendant would have shot him. Police arrested the defendant and took him to a hospital to have him evaluated by a psychiatrist. The defendant was read his Miranda warnings and then admitted to taking the car at gunpoint.

After evaluating the defendant, the psychiatrist determined that the defendant was “bipolar, with psychotic features.” The defense hoped to use that diagnosis to explain why the defendant was not able to knowingly waive his Miranda rights and make the statement to police admitting to the robbery.

The trial court prevented the defendant from entering the evidence, based on the defendant’s failure to provide notice of intent to admit the psychiatric evidence. Under CPL Article 250, psychiatric evidence is not admissible to establish a defense unless notice is provided to the court “not more than thirty days after entry of the plea of not guilty.”

The defendant argued that the evidence was not being used to establish a defense but instead negated the necessary mindset to make an admissible statement to the police. The court, however, disagreed, finding that the term “defense” as used in the statute should be interpreted broadly to include the very claim that the defendant made here. The court explained that a broad interpretation of the term “defense” best went along with the legislators’ intent in passing the law. Thus, the court affirmed the lower court’s denial of the defendant’s request to submit evidence of his psychiatric evaluation.

Have You Been Charged with a Serious New York Crime?

If you have recently been charged with a serious New York firearms offense, you should reach out to the dedicated New York gun crime attorneys at Tilem & Associates to discuss your case. It may be that you have viable defenses to the charges you are facing. If so, there are likely certain procedural requirements that must be met, or you risk losing the ability to argue the defense. At Tilem & Associates, we represent those charged with all types of New York crimes, including gun crimes, drug crimes, and assault crimes. To learn more, call 877-377-8666 to schedule a free consultation today.

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