In a recent case between the State of New York and a defendant convicted of criminal possession of a weapon, an appellate court ruled that the defendant did not have grounds to appeal his guilty verdict. Originally, the defendant was charged with criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree and criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree. His case went to trial, a jury found him guilty, and the defendant promptly appealed. After considering the defendant’s argument that the State unfairly struck a Black individual and a Hispanic individual from the jury, the court denied the defendant’s appeal.
Facts of the Case
According to the opinion, officers were on patrol one evening when they received word that they should be on the lookout for the defendant in this case, given that there was an active warrant for his arrest and he had possibly been involved in a recent homicide in the city. The officers eventually spotted the defendant and began following him in his car. They radioed to other troopers in the area that the defendant was on the loose in his silver Ford Taurus.
Another officer on patrol spotted the car. He turned on his emergency lights to stop the defendant, at which point he saw the defendant stop the car, get out of the car, pull out a pistol from his pockets, and drop the pistol on the ground. The defendant then began running on foot.
Officers eventually caught the defendant, and he was charged with criminal possession of a weapon.
At the defendant’s trial, the court went through its typical process of jury selection, during which both sides had the opportunity to object to potential jurors. The prosecution objected to two individuals, one Black man and one Hispanic woman. Once the jury was formed, the case went forward, and the defendant was found guilty. On appeal, however, the defendant argued that the prosecution struck the jurors solely based on race, which was illegal.
The higher court reviewed the trial court’s record to determine whether the prosecution had tried to eliminate jury members based on race. For the Black man, the court noted that the prosecution had already accepted another Black individual as a jury member. The prosecution also gave a concrete reason for objecting to this juror, in that he did not have a high school education and might have a hard time understanding some aspects of the case. Regarding the Hispanic woman, the court noted that the prosecution said it did not even know the woman’s race when it objected to her presence on the jury.
These were both reasonable assertions on the prosecution’s part, said the court, and therefore, the defendant’s appeal would be denied.
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