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Court Says Probable Cause May Be Supplied in Part by Hearsay Information

This is an appeal by the defendant from a judgment of the County Court, Nassau County, rendered October 21, 1993, convicting him of murder in the second degree (two counts), robbery in the first degree (two counts), criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree, and criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree, upon a jury verdict, and imposing sentence. The appeal brings up for review the denial, after a hearing, of the branch of the defendant’s omnibus motion which was to suppress statements made by the defendant to law enforcement officials.

The issue in this case is whether the defendant is entitled to the suppression of his statements made to the law enforcement officials.

A New York Criminal Lawyer said in this gun crime case, the Court said that, the People established that the police had probable cause to arrest the defendant without a warrant. Probable cause may be supplied, in whole or in part, through hearsay information. Under the Aguilar- Spinelli rule, when probable cause is predicated in whole or in part upon the hearsay statement of an informant, it must be demonstrated that (1) the informant disclosed a sufficient basis for his or her knowledge, and (2) the informant was reliable. Further, the basis-of-knowledge and veracity requirements of Aguilar- Spinelli are analytically independent and each must be satisfied separately. “Information provided by an identified citizen accusing another individual of a specific crime is legally sufficient to provide the police with probable cause to arrest.

In the instant case, the disclosed informant was an individual who admitted to using a credit card stolen by the defendant from one of the defendant’s victims. Since his statement not only subjected him to a potential penalty for providing the police with fabricated information but also admitted his own criminal conduct. The Court finds that the prosecution established this witness’s veracity.

The Court held that the “basis-of-knowledge” prong of the test may be satisfied upon a showing that the information furnished is so detailed as to make it clear that it must have been based upon personal knowledge. In order to satisfy the “basis-of-knowledge” prong, it is not necessary that the informant have personally viewed the criminal activity. This informant, who was with the defendant prior to and immediately after the gun crime, explained in detail how the defendant planned the crime, took a gun from where it had been secreted, left to commit the robbery, returned with the fruits of the robbery, and talked about the details of the robbery. An NY Criminal Lawyer said the information provided by the informant was consistent with the details already learned by the police during their investigation. ” ‘What is required is information of such quality, considering its source and the circumstances in which it came into possession of the informant, that a reasonable observer would be warranted in determining that the basis of the informant’s knowledge was such that it led logically to the conclusion that a crime had been committed’ ” by the defendant.

Based on the evidence before the hearing court, we are convinced that the People established the informant’s veracity and basis of knowledge. Viewing the evidence adduced at trial in the light most favorable to the prosecution, the Court finds that it was legally sufficient to establish the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Moreover, upon the exercise of our factual review power, we are satisfied that the verdict of guilt was not against the weight of the evidence. Thus, the sentence imposed was not excessive.

Accordingly, judgment of the County Court, Nassau County, convicting defendant of murder in the second degree (two counts), robbery in the first degree (two counts), criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree, and criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree, upon a jury verdict, and imposing sentence is hereby affirmed.

The rule is that, probable cause may be supplied, in whole or in part, through hearsay information. If you have been charged or convicted of a gun crime or criminal possession of a weapon, sex crimes or drug charges, seek the advice of a Nassau Possession of a Weapon Attorney in order explain to you the legal consequences of your case. At Stephen Bilkis and Associates, our Nassau Criminal Attorney and Nassau Arrest Attorneys can represent your day in Court.

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