New York Defendant Successfully Appeals Sentence in Assault Case Based on Age at His Time of the Crime

In a recent matter before the Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Third Department, the court modified a defendant’s judgment in his favor, vacating part of his sentence for an assault conviction from 2013. The defendant asked the court to reconsider part of his sentence given his young age at the time of the conviction. The State conceded that the sentence should be altered, and the Court ultimately granted the defendant’s request.

The Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant pled guilty to one count of assault in the first degree and one count of assault in the second degree in 2013. Months later, the defendant appealed, arguing that his plea should be vacated because the court did not take into account that he might have been eligible for youthful offender treatment, which typically means that a defendant is sentenced to less time in prison because of his or her young age at the time of his or her conviction and which would mean that he doesn’t have a criminal record.

The court denied the defendant’s appeal, and the defendant challenged this decision. The higher court decided it was willing to at least hear the defendant’s argument regarding his position that the lower court should resentence him given his age at the time of the conviction.

The defendant therefore submitted a brief on the issue. Upon reviewing his brief, the State and the higher court both agreed that the case should be sent back to the lower court for resentencing.

The Appellate Court’s Decision

The court’s decision was mostly based on a case called People v. Rudolph, which was decided before the defendant was sentenced for the assault. According to that case, when a defendant is potentially eligible for sentencing based on his or her youthful age, the court is required to consider the age (whether or not the defendant asks the court to consider it).

In this case, the court did not determine on the record whether the defendant was an “eligible youth.” Given this error, the appellate court determined that the defendant’s case should be sent back down to the lower court for further proceedings. That way, the court could reconsider the defendant’s sentence properly based on his age at the time of the conviction.

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