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People v. Ramcharran

Criminal Court of the City of New York, Queens County

July 19, 2018

The People of the State of New York, Plaintiff,
v.
Tridesh Ramcharran, Defendant.

          Ariel Adams, Esq. The Legal Aid Society Yannick Wood Assistant District Attorney Office of the Queens District Attorney.

          David J. Kirschner, J.C.C.

         Defendant is charged by a superseding misdemeanor information with public lewdness (Penal Law § 245.00), endangering the welfare of a child (Penal Law § 260.10 [1]) and harassment in the second degree (Penal Law § 240.26 [2]). By motion filed on May 17, 2018, defendant moves to dismiss the accusatory instrument pursuant to CPL 200.70 and 30.30, claiming that the People improperly amended the location of the offense in the superseding information and that defendant's statutory speedy trial rights were violated. The People oppose. After a review of the motion papers filed by both parties and their respective arguments, as well as other documents on file with the court, this Court granted defendant's motion to dismiss the accusatory instrument by decision and order dated June 6, 2018. This expands that decision.

         I. Background and Procedural Posture

         On June 27, 2016, defendant was charged with one count of public lewdness (Penal Law § 245.00), after the complainant, Erica Peralta, a 12-year-old girl, allegedly observed defendant at the southeast intersection of Northern Boulevard and 106th Street seated in his vehicle manipulating his penis in an upward and downward motion within public view.

         Approximately 10 months later, on May 8, 2017, the People filed a superseding information and statement of readiness that added the charges of endangering the welfare of a child (Penal Law § 260.10 [1]) and harassment in the second degree (Penal Law § 240.26 [2]). Again, the location of occurrence identified in the superseding information was the southeast intersection of Northern Boulevard and 106th Street. The time of occurrence, however, had been changed to reflect a range between 6:30 PM on June 17, 2016 to May 5, 2017.

         On July 18, 2017, after defendant objected to the statement of readiness on the grounds that the range for the crime was overly broad, the court directed the People to file a bill of particulars.

         On July 21, 2017, the People filed a bill of particulars along with a statement of readiness, in which they clarified the time of the incident as having occurred on June 17, 2016, at approximately 6:30 PM, but once again listed the location of the alleged incident as the southeast intersection of Northern Boulevard and 106th Street.

         On August 17, 2017, a Wade/Dunaway hearing was held in front of Judge Ushir Pandit-Durant. At no time before, during, or after the hearing, did the People move to amend the location of the alleged incidents.

         It was not until April 25, 2018, after both parties announced their readiness for trial, that the People informed defendant that the complainant had indicated a new theory of the alleged incident. Instead of that which was indicated in both the superseding information and the bill of particulars, the complainant informed the prosecution that she initially observed defendant at 97th Street and Astoria Boulevard and followed her in his van for ten blocks to the BP Gas Station located at 107th Street and Astoria Boulevard. Thus, it was at this location that the complainant alleges she observed defendant manipulating his penis in an upward/downward motion.

         II. Discussion

         To be facially sufficient, an accusatory instrument must specify the offense(s) charged and contain factual allegations of an evidentiary nature that tend to support them (see CPL 100.15 [2], [3]). Such factual allegations, together with any supporting depositions or other accompanying documents, must consist of non-hearsay allegations that provide reasonable cause to believe that the defendant committed the offense(s) charged, which if true, establish each and every element of those charges (see CPL 100.40 [1]; People v Henderson, 92 N.Y.2d 677, 679 [1999]). Sufficiency of an accusatory instrument is a non-waivable jurisdictional defect that requires dismissal if not satisfied (see People v Alejandro, 70 N.Y.2d 133');">70 N.Y.2d 133 [1987]).

         Essentially, a facially sufficient accusatory instrument, or information, must provide reasonable cause that the defendant committed the charged offenses, and establish a prima facie case against him. Not surprisingly, it is the People who bear the burden of satisfying these requirements by doing so in the text of the information (see People v Jones, 9 N.Y.3d 259, 261 [2007]). To be sure, this requirement is neither synonymous with the People's burden at trial, which requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt, nor rises to the level of evidence sufficient to survive a motion for a trial order of dismissal (People v Kalin, 12 N.Y.3d 225, 230 [2009]).

         In reviewing and evaluating whether the pleaded allegations establish reasonable cause to believe that a person has committed an offense, the court must do so in the light most favorable to the People (see People v Williams, 84 N.Y.2d 925 [1994]; People v Contes, 60 N.Y.2d 620');">60 N.Y.2d 620 [1983]). Moreover, the information "should be given a fair and not overly restrictive or technical reading" (People v Casey, 95 N.Y.2d 354, 360 [2000]). Reasonable cause exists when "evidence or information which appears reliable discloses facts or circumstances... of such weight and persuasiveness as to convince a ...


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