People v. Valentin
Court Discusses the Offense of Criminal Facilitation as a Lesser Offense to Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance
The defendant was arrested after a sting operation in which it was alleged that he sold heroin to that drug enforcement agent. The defendant was charged with one count of criminal sale of a controlled substance in the second degree pursuant to section 220.41 of the Penal Law. It was alleged by the undercover detective and other person who witnessed the transaction that the defendant sold the detective 15 bags of heroin for 140 at a social bar. The defendant was arrested after the transaction while he was at the social bar although no narcotics were found on his person or the proceeds of the transaction. However, purchase money was found in a garage bin along with other money. The defendant denied the allegations but acknowledged that he was asked about narcotics from one of the witnessed but refused.
The defendant’s New York City Criminal Attorney requested that the jury be directed to on the lesser offense of criminal facilitation in the second degree. Criminal facilitation in the second degree according to section 115.05 of the Penal Law is defined as a probable belief that a person has rendered assistance to a person to commit a Class A felony by engaging in conduct by providing the means or opportunity to commit the felony. According to the People v. Lewis, 68 A.D.2d 862 the charge of criminal facilitation is a lesser offense to a count of criminal sale of a narcotics drugs. However, the request was denied on the ground that there was no evidence available to sustain a finding that the defendant criminally facilitated the sale and sustain the charge of the sale of the controlled substance. The defendant was convicted for the in the Supreme Court of criminal sale of a controlled substance in the second degree, and he appealed.
The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court reversed the decision and remanded the matter as it was a reversible error for the trial court to refuse defendant’s request for an instruction on the lesser included offense of criminal facilitation in the second degree. The jury could reasonably have assessed the evidence in such a way as to be justified in acquitting defendant on the sale count but convicting him on the proposed lesser count.
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