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People v. Hood

Criminal Court of the City of New York, Queens County

June 2, 2017

The People of the State of New York
v.
Rhamel Hood, Defendant.

         Summary of the Court's Decision: People's motion to reargue granted; Court finds that the accusatory instrument is facially insufficient.

          For the Defendant:Queens Law Associates (Christopher Van Zele, Esq., of Counsel)

          For the People:Richard A. Brown, District Attorney, Queens County (Michael Schillinger, Esq., of Counsel)

          EUGENE M. GUARINO, J

         On March 30, 2017, the People filed a motion to reargue this Court's decision that the accusatory instrument charging the Defendant with PL 221.10[2] Criminal Possession of Marihuana in the Fifth Degree should be dismissed for facial insufficiency. For the reasons articulated below, the People's motion to reverse this Court's decision is DENIED.

         The relevant factual allegations of the accusatory instrument read as follows: Detective Michael Cohen of 600 [hereinafter Deponent] states that on May 2, 2016 at about 8:00 pm, inside of 1085 Beach 21 Street, in the County of Queens, he executed a search warrant signed by the Hornorable [sic] Judge Serita of Queens Criminal Court.

         Deponent further states that upon entering the location, he observed the defendant, Rhamel Hood, inside dispatcher's office.

         Deponent further states that the recovered 33 plastic zips of marijuana from under the dispatcher's desk inside of the dispatcher's office.

         Deponent further states that the aggregate weight of the marijuana recovered exceed twenty-five grams.

         Deponent further states that his conclusion that the substance recovered is marijuana is based upon his experience as a police officer and in his training in the identification and packaging of controlled substances and marijuana.

         The Defendant was given a Desk Appearance Ticket and was arraigned on August 2, 2016. The court file does not include any lab reports concerning the substances recovered.

         DISCUSSION

         A misdemeanor information serves the same role in a misdemeanor prosecution that an indictment serves in a felony prosecution; it ensures that a legally sufficient case can be made against the defendant. (People v Dumay, 23 N.Y.3d 518 [2014]; People v Alejandro, 70 N.Y.2d 133, 139 [1987].) Accordingly, a misdemeanor information must set forth "non-hearsay allegations which, if true, establish every element of the offense charged and the defendant's commission thereof." (People v Kalin, 12 N.Y.3d 225');">12 N.Y.3d 225 [2009])(citing People v Henderson, 92 N.Y.2d 677, 679 [1999] and CPL 100.40[1][c].) This is known as the "prima facie case requirement." (People v Kalin, 12 N.Y.3d at 229.) A court reviewing for facial insufficiency must subject the allegations in the information to a "fair and not overly restrictive or technical reading" (id.), assume that those allegations are true, and consider all reasonable inferences that may be drawn from them (CPL 100.40, 100.15; People v Jackson, 18 N.Y.3d 738, 747 [2012]; see also Casey, 95 N.Y.2d at 360.)

         Nevertheless, the factual part of a misdemeanor complaint "must allege facts of an evidentiary character demonstrating reasonable cause to believe the defendant committed the crime charged." (People v Dumas, 68 N.Y.2d 719, 731 [1986].) Where an accusatory instrument contains conclusory statements that merely track the language of the statute, it is jurisdictionally defective, and must be dismissed ...


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