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People v. Jones

Supreme Court of New York, Third Department

November 2, 2017

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, Respondent,
v.
CHRISTINE M. JONES, Appellant.

          Calendar Date: September 11, 2017

          Teresa C. Mulliken, Harpersfield, for appellant.

          Stephen K. Cornwell Jr., District Attorney, Binghamton (David M. Petrush of counsel), for respondent.

          Before: Egan Jr., J.P., Lynch, Rose and Mulvey, JJ.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          MULVEY, J.

         Appeal from a judgment of the County Court of Broome County (Smith, J.), rendered June 11, 2015, convicting defendant upon her plea of guilty of the crime of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree.

         In April 2014, a confidential informant purchased heroin on two occasions from defendant's boyfriend, Arthur Anderson, at an apartment located in the Village of Endicott, Broome County where defendant's friend resided. Members of the City of Binghamton Police Department thereafter obtained and executed two search warrants. The first warrant, for defendant's person, produced no narcotics and the second warrant, for the apartment, disclosed heroin secreted in cans with false bottoms. Packaging materials and face masks containing the DNA of defendant and Anderson, believed to be drug paraphernalia, were also found in the apartment.

         Defendant was thereafter charged in an eight-count indictment with three counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree and other crimes stemming from, as relevant here, the search of the apartment [1]. Defendant moved to suppress, among other things, the physical evidence found in the apartment, claiming that the search warrant was not supported by probable cause and was defective, and requested a Darden hearing. At the hearing on defendant's omnibus motion, County Court denied her motion to suppress the physical evidence obtained in the apartment pursuant to the execution of the search warrant, without a hearing. The court concluded that, upon review of the search warrant application, the search warrant was facially valid. The court further denied the request for a Darden hearing (see People v Darden, 34 N.Y.2d 177 [1974]) [2]. Defendant thereafter pleaded guilty under count 2 of the indictment to criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree in satisfaction of all charges, pursuant to a plea agreement that left sentencing to the court's discretion with a cap of 4½ years followed by three years of postrelease supervision. County Court sentenced defendant, as an admitted second felony offender, to a prison term of four years with three years of postrelease supervision. Defendant now appeals.

         We affirm. Defendant lacked standing to challenge the search warrant or the search of the apartment pursuant to that warrant. A "defendant seeking suppression of evidence [has] the initial burden of showing sufficient grounds for the motion based on sworn allegations of fact" and "such grounds necessarily include a showing of standing - that is, a legitimate expectation of privacy in the searched premises" (People v Wesley, 73 N.Y.2d 351, 358-359 [1989]; see CPL 710.60; People v Scully, 14 N.Y.3d 861, 864 [2010]; People v Ramirez-Portoreal, 88 N.Y.2d 99, 108 [1996]). Where, as here, criminal charges are "predicated on ordinary constructive possession principles, standing is available only if the defendant demonstrates a personal legitimate expectation of privacy in the searched premises" (People v Tejada, 81 N.Y.2d 861, 862 [1993] [internal quotation marks, brackets and citation omitted]) [3]. Defendant did not submit a personal affidavit or any proof from which it could be concluded that she had such an expectation of privacy with respect to the apartment, which was not her residence, and her motion papers are devoid of any allegations of fact supporting such an expectation. Her "presence in an apartment in which [s]he did not reside did not confer standing upon [her] to challenge the search and seizure in that apartment" (id. at 863; see People v Jones, 47 A.D.3d 961, 963-964 [2008], lvs denied 10 N.Y.3d 808, 812 [2008]; compare People v Cleveland, 14 A.D.3d 798, 799 [2005], lv denied 4 N.Y.3d 829');">4 N.Y.3d 829 [2005]). Further, the affidavit of her attorney, who lacked personal knowledge, "will not suffice" (People v Cleveland, 14 A.D.3d at 799).

         Accordingly, as defendant failed to allege facts establishing her standing to challenge the search of the apartment and seizure of the drugs and paraphernalia, her motion to suppress was properly denied without a hearing (see CPL 710.60 [3] [a], [b]; People v Burton, 6 N.Y.3d 584, 587-588 [2006]; People v Jones, 47 A.D.3d at 964). Furthermore, given the foregoing, she did not have standing to challenge the warrant or County Court's refusal to conduct a Darden inquiry (see People v Christian, 248 A.D.2d 960, 961 [1998], lv denied 91 N.Y.2d 1006');">91 N.Y.2d 1006 [1998]; People v Abreu, 239 A.D.2d 424, 424 [1997], lv denied 90 N.Y.2d 901');">90 N.Y.2d 901 [1997]; People v Bandera, 166 A.D.2d 657, 657 [1990]; People v Melendez, 160 A.D.2d 739, 739 [1990], lv denied 76 N.Y.2d 792');">76 N.Y.2d 792 [1990]; see generally People v Crooks, 27 N.Y.3d 609, 612-613 [2016]).

         With regard to defendant's claim that her guilty plea was not knowing, voluntary or intelligent, this claim is not preserved for our review as the record does not reflect that she made an appropriate postallocution motion to withdraw her plea (see CPL 220.60 [2]; People v Taylor, 144 A.D.3d 1317, 1318 [2016], lvs denied 28 N.Y.3d 1144, 1151 [2017]). Further, defendant did not make any statements during the plea allocution that cast doubt on her guilt or called into question the voluntariness of her plea so as to trigger the narrow exception to the preservation requirement (see People v Lopez, 71 N.Y.2d 662, 665 [1988]; see also People v Williams, 27 N.Y.3d 212, 219-220 [2016]). While defendant protested County Court's imposition of a sentence, arguing that the minimum sentence should be imposed, she did not make statements at sentencing that triggered the narrow exception to the preservation requirement (compare People v Gresham, 151 A.D.3d 1175, 1177-1178 [2017]).

         Finally, we are not persuaded by defendant's contention that the sentence was harsh and excessive. Contrary to her claim that she was promised a flat two-year prison sentence, County Court made clear that, under the terms of the agreement, sentencing would be left to its discretion. The court advised defendant that it could impose a sentence of between two years with 1½ to 3 years of postrelease supervision, at a minimum, and up to a maximum sentence of 4½ years with three years of postrelease supervision. In view of her criminal history, which includes two prior drug-related felony convictions, we find no extraordinary circumstances or abuse of sentencing discretion, particularly given that the sentence imposed is significantly below the maximum permissible sentence that she could have received (see CPL 470.15 [3] [c]; [6] [b]; People v Slaughter, 150 A.D.3d 1415, 1418 [2017]).

          Egan Jr., J.P., Lynch and ...


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