A man was indicted by a grand jury for the crime of Robbery in the first degree, Robbery in the Second Degree and criminal use of a weapon. At the arraignment, the man asked the trial court to first open the minutes of the grand jury proceeding to see if a prima facie case had been proved by the District Attorney that would justify the indictments for robbery. A New York Sex Crimes Lawyer said the Court granted the motion of the accused and scrutinized he grand jury proceedings to determine if there was legally sufficient grounds as basis for the indictment.
The Court reviewed the minutes of the grand jury proceedings and found out that the police officer who arrested the man was presented to testify. A New York Sex Crimes Lawyer said in his testimony, he stated that the man was arrested following a conversation the arresting police officer had with the complaining witness and the co-defendant of the man.
The Court held that allowing the arresting police officer to testify regarding the conversations he had with the complaining witness and the man’s co-defendant allowed hearsay testimony to be admitted during the grand jury proceedings. But the Court also ruled that although errors were made, these errors were not serious enough to warrant the dismissal of the first two counts of the indictment for Robbery in the first degree and for robbery in the second degree. So the accused’s motion for dismissal of the first two counts of the indictment is denied.
The Court however found sufficient reason to dismiss the third count in the indictment for criminal use of a weapon. A Nassau County Sex Crimes Lawyer said the Court found in the minutes that the District Attorney read the appropriate penal provision to the grand jury but the District Attorney failed to explain to the grand jury the nature of the crime of criminal use of a weapon.
In the crime of criminal use of a weapon, there must be some evidence that a weapon as used to commit a Class B felony. The District Attorney failed to explain to the grand jury what a Class B felony is.
The District attorney relied upon the Robbery counts in the indictment to be the same “Class B” felony that were committed with the use of a weapon. The Court however noted that Robbery cannot be the Class B felony which may be used as the basis for the charge of criminal use of a weapon. The Court held that Robbery in the first degree is already a crime where the robbery was committed using a handgun.
A Queens Sex Crimes Lawyer said the Court held that the Legislature must have meant some other violent felony, a felony other than Robbery because this crime is already defined as Robbery in the first degree.
The Court held that to sustain the third count of the grand jury indictment would be the same as allowing multiplicity of charges. There is a multiplicity of charges when the elements and grade of each count are identical. The problematic result in multiplicity of charges is that when the accused is found guilty, he may be sentenced to serve multiple sentences for the same offense.
Charging identical offenses against the accused will lead the petit jury to think that the accused has committed several crimes when he has only committed one.
The Court held that the only way to tell if there is a multiplicity of suits is if one offense charged requires the sane proof in another felony charge. An indictment can only charge one felony at a time and charge separate counts of one or more offenses. Here, there are two charges with different names but the elements of one crime are the same as the elements of the other crime charged.
The Court dismissed the third count of the indictment.
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