Category: New York Court Of Appeals

In the People v. Aragon, 2016 NY Slip Op 07104 (Nov. 1, 2016), the New York Court of Appeals decided whether the accusatory instrument alleging that defendant unlawfully possessed “brass metal knuckles” was facially sufficient. Here, because the Defendant allowed himself to be prosecuted by an information, the Court of Appeals agrees that the information was sufficient, affirming the Appellate Term.

It is important to note, at the outset, that the Defendant waived (yes, this can be done and often times the Defendant may not realize the impact of this) prosecution by an information. Accordingly, Criminal Procedure Law § 100.15 (3) provides that the factual part of a misdemeanor complaint “must contain a statement of the complainant alleging facts of an evidentiary character supporting or tending to support the charges.” The complaint must also “provide reasonable cause to believe that the defendant committed the offense charged” (CPL 100.40 [4] [b]; see People v Dumas, 68 NY2d 729, 731 [1986]). “[A]n accusatory instrument must be given a reasonable, not overly technical reading” (People v Konieczny, 2 NY3d 569, 576 [2004]). Thus, the test for facial sufficiency “is, simply, whether the accusatory instrument failed to supply defendant with sufficient notice of the charged crime to satisfy the demands of due process and double jeopardy” (People v Dreyden, 15 NY3d 100, 103 [2010]). So what about brass knuckles?