A 54 years old woman has a long history of drug abuse and a lengthy criminal history, consisting primarily of drug-related offenses.
During the woman’s younger age, she dropped out of school in the seventh or eighth grade because she was having problems at home, and began using speed and heroin. Following a stay in a rehabilitation facility, she was able to stop using drugs for a period of about nine years. However, after both of her parents became seriously ill and passed away, she began misusing the valium pills which had been prescribed to her for depression and insomnia.
Subsequently, she was arrested with her boyfriend on charges of assault, burglary, and robbery. The victim of the offense was the woman’s former boyfriend. Two days after her arrest, she was arraigned and released on her own recognizance. She and her boyfriend were subsequently charged with 12-count indictment, with multiple offenses including assault in the second degree.
In the years following her arrest for the assault of her former boyfriend, she was arrested 14 additional times, and convicted of a number of misdemeanor offenses and violations. For a period of approximately 10 years between, she claims that her drug habit spiraled out of control to such a degree that she ended up living in a subway tunnel, and supporting herself through prostitution. At one point, she became so ill that she sought medical treatment at a free clinic, and learned that she was five months pregnant. Although she stopped using drugs for the remainder of her pregnancy, after the birth of her child, she once again began using heroin and marijuana, and funding her drug habit through prostitution.
Afterward, she was arrested and subsequently indicted for criminal sale of a controlled substance in the third degree. After the trial, she was convicted of the charged offense. Prior to sentencing, the complainant filed a predicate felony statement alleging that the woman had previously been convicted of the felony of assault in the second degree. When she appeared for sentencing, she was arraigned on the predicate felony statement, and advised of her right to challenge any of the allegations in the statement and to challenge the constitutionality of her alleged prior conviction. She was then adjudicated a second felony offender and was sentenced to a term of 4½ to 9 years of imprisonment. Sources revealed that the sentence imposed was the minimum permissible term for a second felony offender convicted of a class B felony.
Upon being sentenced, the woman was transferred to the custody of the department of correctional services. Shortly after she arrived at the facility, the employees reviewed her criminal history. By letter, the record coordinator asked the clerk of the Supreme Court to forward the commitment order relating to the woman’s previous conviction. In response, the clerk prepared a duplicate commitment order, and forwarded it back to the facility. The duplicate commitment order indicated that the woman had been convicted of assault in the second degree, and sentenced to an indeterminate term of 1½ to 4½ years of imprisonment.
The facility, relying upon the duplicate commitment order, calculated the total term of imprisonment that the woman would be required to serve and included the term of 1½ to 4½ years evidently imposed upon her for the assault conviction. Upon adding the apparently un-discharged term to the term imposed for the woman’s drug conviction, the department of correctional services determined that the total term of imprisonment that she would be required to serve was 6 to 13½ years. Burglary was not charged.
Later, the woman wrote a number of letters to various individuals and agencies inquiring about her status with respect to her alleged conviction, and whether the term of imprisonment which had supposedly been imposed upon that conviction should run concurrently rather than consecutively to the term imposed for her. To be cont…
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