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People v. Vargulik

People v. Vargulik

Court Discusses Whether Failure to Comply with Discovery Demand Should Result in Suppression of Chemical Results

The defendant was indicted for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, vehicular manslaughter and criminal negligent homicide. The defendant was the driver of a motor vehicle that killed a passenger in her car after she crashed into a tree. Three beer cans were recovered from the car, one unopened and two empty cans. The defendant went to the hospital to receive treatment and was later arrested. She consented to an Alco-Sensor” test where .15 percent blood alcohol content was recorded. The defendant requested an omnibus motion to suppress the results of the blood test on the ground that there was insufficient evidence for probable cause in the absence of the chemical test. The People attempted to introduce evidence that indicated that the defendant had consumed alcohol which was probable cause for the arrest after the results of the blood test. The defendant’s Queens County Criminal Attorney objected to the introduction of the blood test into evidence because of the prosecution’s failure to provide the report of the breath test to the defendant in response to the discovery demand, pursuant to section 240.40 of the Criminal Procedure Law. This resulted in the court concluding that the DWI test result was prohibited from being introduced into evidence. The People appealed the decision.

The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court reversed the decision and remitted the matter, ordering a new hearing to determine whether the results of the blood test should be suppressed. The failure of the prosecution to comply with the discovery demand was an error. But the error could be cured by an adjournment as requested by the defendant’s Queens County Criminal Lawyer since it was an unintentional failure to comply with the defense’s discovery demand. In remedying nondisclosure the degree of prosecutorial fault must be considered but the overriding concern must eliminate the prejudice that the defendant may face while protecting the interest of the society according to the People v Kelly 62 N.Y.2d 516. The trial judge abused his discretion with the sanction imposed of prohibiting the introduction of evidence regarding the administration of the “Alco-Sensor” breath test after nondisclosure of the People as it was a drastic remedy.

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