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Court Hears Motion to Amend Grand Jury Instruction


The People of the State of New York are the plaintiffs in this case against the defendant Luis Pantojas. This case is being heard in the Supreme Court of the State of New York in Bronx County, Part C. The People have moved for an order to amend the direction of a duly empanelled Grand Jury from Bronx County to include the phrase “acting in concert with others” in the proof that was submitted in the case.

Case Background

A New York Sex Crime Lawyer said on the 19th of February, 1986, the Grand Jury heard evidence against the defendant, Luis Pantojas in regard to crimes that allegedly occurred on the 11th of February, 1986. The incident included the defendant, two other males that were not found and a fourteen year old girl complainant. The complainant accused the defendant of accessorial sodomy and accessorial rape.

After the Grand Jury heard the testimony in the case they chose to not vote a True Bill, instead they directed the District Attorney to file the case in the Bronx County Criminal Court. The prosecutor was to charge the defendant of sexual misconduct, which was the lowest degree of crime which the defendant could be charged with.

The Grand Jury direction provides that there is reason to believe that the defendant committed the crime of sexual misconduct on or around the 11th of February and that he engaged in sexual intercourse with the complainant without her consent. It is noted that the Grand Jury direction does not mention that the defendant acted in cohort with others. From this information the prosecutor’s information was drafted by the People.

The draft by the People states that The Grand Jury of Bronx County accuses the defendant of the crime of sexual misconduct as the defendant engaged in sexual intercourse with the complainant without her consent.

Court Discussion and Decision

A New York Sex Crime Lawyer said to support the motion the District Attorney contends that the minutes provided by the Grand Jury clearly intend to have the language include that the defendant acted in cohort with others. The People further contend that the addition is nothing more than the correction of an obvious typographical error and ministerial oversight and does not change the theory of the prosecution.

The People did not file a formal motion to have the Grand Jury minutes inspected, but a copy of the Grand Jury minutes have been attached to their moving papers for the court’s inspection. The court has taken the opportunity to review the Grand Jury minutes.

After reviewing the case and the minutes from the grand jury, the court finds that there is no basis statutory or otherwise to allow an amendment of this nature to be made. A Queens Sex Crime Lawyer says the court does not find the clear intention of the grand jury to have the defendant be charged with the crime of sexual misconduct while acting in the concert with others.

As the court is not able to detect the full intent of the grand jury in this matter, it is found that the People’s claim that this was an unintentional error is found to be false. The court further does not understand how the People claim that permitting this amendment would not change the theory of the prosecution. A Nassau County Criminal Lawyer there is a big difference between principal liability and accessorial liability. For these reasons the motion by the People to amend is denied.

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