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Court Discusses Mental Hygiene Law


This is a case of the People of the State of New York versus the defendant, G.R. The case is being heard in the Criminal Court of the City of New York in Bronx County. The defendant has moved to set aside the sentence that has been imposed on him. He basis his argument for this motion on the ground that the sentence was unauthorized, illegally imposed, or otherwise invalid as a matter of the law.

Court Discussion

The instant case at hand deals with the Mental Hygiene Law. This law was originally enacted in April of 1966. The purpose of this law was to provide a comprehensive plan that covers the care, treatment, and rehabilitation of narcotic addicts.

A New York Criminal Lawyer said the issue brought up by the defendant is whether he could be properly sentenced under the Penal Law without having been first being examined pursuant to the Mental Hygiene Law section 81.19 when he was charged with a violation of Article 220 of the Penal Law.

The section of the Mental Hygiene Law that the defendant refers to states that every person that is charged with a violation of section 1740, 1751, or section 1751 of the formal Penal Law or violation of section 220 or any person that is charged with a felony or misdemeanor for the offense of prostitution who while is in custody or when he/she appears before the court indicates or shows symptoms of or it otherwise appears is addicted to narcotics (drug possession) shall undergo a medical examination to determine whether or not he is a narcotic addict.

After this law took effect it was questioned as to whether or not a person who is accused of violating Article 220 of the Penal Law had to be examined if they did not state, show, or indicate in any way that they were addicted to narcotics. In that particular case the Judge answered the question affirmatively. The court argued that violations of Article 220 were either felonies or misdemeanors and that the amendment to section 207 of the Mental Hygiene Laws would have been unnecessary if the presence of symptoms was required. This decision has a long history of arguments and it has been determined that article 220 offenders are not required to submit to a narcotic examination without signs of addiction.

Court Decision

In regard to the instant case presented by the defendant in this court, it is found that the defendant had adequate representation at the time he was sentenced. At the time of the sentence the Court was provided with a full and complete presentence report. At no time did the defendant admit that he was a narcotics addict and he did not show any signs of being an addict.

A Brooklyn Criminal Lawyer said with reference to the history of the law, it is determined that a person in violation of Article 220 is not required to undergo a medical examination unless there are signs of addiction. For this reason, the motion by the defendant is denied. His sentence remains in effect.

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