Published on:

Supreme Court correctly defined the crime

In this Criminal case, the defendant appealed from a judgment convicting him of falsely reporting an incident in the third degree (two counts), upon a jury verdict, and imposing sentence.

A Queens County Criminal attorney said that in the early morning hours of May 2007, the defendant appeared at a for treatment of a gunshot wound to his left foot. After the hospital notified the police responded to the hospital, and asked the defendant what had happened. The defendant answered that, while he was standing on the corner of 157th Street and South Road in Jamaica, Queens, an unknown black male fired shots at the ground, and he was struck in the foot.

The defendant was subsequently transferred to another hospital, where he gave a similar account to a New York City Police Detective. The latter told the defendant that he did not believe his story and warned the defendant that if his account proved to be false, he would be charged with filing a false police report. The defendant then changed his story, and told the Detective that he had been drinking in a bar on Linden Boulevard, a location within the 113th Precinct. He stated that, when he left the bar, he was shot by someone he did not see.

The defendant was subsequently indicted for criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree, criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree, and two counts of falsely reporting an incident in the third degree. At trial, the People presented evidence of the police investigation and the defendant’s statements. Testifying in his own behalf, the defendant told the jury that his father had shot him during an argument, and that he had inculpated himself only to protect his father.

In summation, defense counsel focused entirely on the weapon possession counts and did not address the two counts of falsely reporting an incident in the third degree. The People addressed the latter counts only briefly, arguing, inter alia, that the defendant had admitted at trial that the statements were false.

“Under our law a person is guilty of falsely reporting an incident in the third degree, when knowing the information reported, conveyed or circumstances relayed to be false, he gratuitously reports to a law enforcement agency the alleged occurrence of the offense which did not in fact occur under the third count are required to prove, from all of the evidence, beyond a reasonable doubt two elements: One, that on or about May 2007, in the County of Queens, the defendant falsely reported information regarding an offense or incident to law enforcement information which did not occur within the confines of the 103rd Precinct; and two: He did so knowingly.

“The elements are the same. The two elements the People must prove beyond a reasonable doubt, one, on or about May 6, 2007, in our County of Queens this criminal defendant falsely reported information regarding an offense to law enforcement agencies that did not occur-that’s from the 103rd Precinct-and, secondly, he did so knowingly. The fourth count is the exact same elements but in the confines of the 113th Precinct, and did so knowingly.”

The defendant does not dispute that the Supreme Court correctly defined the crime of falsely reporting an incident in the third degree by instructing the jury that a person is guilty of that crime “when, knowing the information reported, conveyed or [circumstances relayed] to be false … he gratuitously reports to a law enforcement … agency the alleged occurrence of [the] offense … which did not in fact occur”. In describing the elements of the crime, however, the Supreme Court instructed the jury that “[t]he two elements the People must prove beyond a reasonable doubt, one, on or about May 6, 2007, in our County of Queens this defendant falsely reported information regarding an offense to law enforcement agencies that did not occur and, secondly, he did so knowingly.”

The defendant argues that the Supreme Court erred in omitting the element that the false report must be “gratuitously” made. The defendant, however, did not object to the Supreme Court’s failure to include, as an element of the crime, that the false reports were made “gratuitously,” and we reject the defendant’s request that we exercise our interest of justice jurisdiction to review his claim regarding the Supreme Court’s charge.

The defendant further contends that the evidence was legally insufficient to establish his guilt of falsely reporting an incident in the third degree.

“[There is no] due process violation when there is evidence from which a rational trier of fact could find the essential elements of the crime as those elements were charged to the jury without exception beyond a reasonable doubt. There is neither constitutional nor jurisprudential error in permitting guilt to be determined under a penal statute as construed by the common assumption of both attorneys and the court. To hold otherwise is to encourage gamesmanship and waste judicial resources in order to protect a criminal defendant against a claimed error protection against which requires no more than a specific objection on his part.”

Here, measured against the elements as charged to the jury without exception, the evidence was legally sufficient to establish the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

In every case, there must be due process. This is a fundamental right. Here in Stephen Bilkis and Associates, our Queens County Criminal lawyers will see to it that due process was observed in every proceedings of a case. In case of illegal arrests and searches of weapons, we also have Queens County Gun Crime attorneys, who shall help you and inform you of all your rights.

Contact Information