Case Dismissed - Legally Insufficient Evidence


The Prosecution failed to present legally sufficient evidence at trial – the trial involving sexual assault against a child. The Defendant here was a Rabbi and the child was one who was confused during testimony. The Court makes it decision not based upon the credibility of the witnesses but upon the prosecution’s failures. At the close of the case, the defense, as often happens, moved for a dismissal. Indeed,

At the conclusion of the people’s case or at the conclusion of all the evidence, the court may…issue a trial order of dismissal, dismissing any count of an indictment upon the ground that the trial evidence is not legally sufficient to establish the offense charged therein or any lesser included offense…. CPL §290.10(1)(a).

CPL §290.10 applies to jury and nonjury trials, alike, and permits a trial order of dismissal only when the evidence presented at trial is insufficient as a matter of law. See People v. Sabella, 35 NY2d 158 [1974]. Legally sufficient evidence means “competent evidence which, if accepted as true, would establish every element of an offense charged and the defendant’s commissions thereof….” CPL §70.10(1); emphasis added. If the prosecutor has established a prima facie case, the evidence is deemed legally sufficient, Sabella, at 167, and the case proceeds to deliberation by the finder of fact.

Here, “the People failed, as a matter of law, to present a prima facie case in that they were unable to present legally sufficient evidence to establish the date on which the alleged offense occurred. Predatory Sexual Assault Against A Child and Sexual Abuse in the First Degree require that the prosecutor prove among other elements the date and the place of the alleged incident.” Pp. 3.

The People failed to present legally sufficient evidence to support a conviction in this case. CPL §290.10; People v. Ledwon, 153 NY 10 [1897]; People v. Delamota, 18 NY3d 107 [2011]. The Court cites precedent over one-hundred-years old for this proposition: “in People v. Ledwon, 153 NY 10 [1897], the Court of Appeals held that a criminal conviction is not supported by legally sufficient evidence if the only evidence of guilt is supplied by a witness who offers inherently conflicting testimony about the defendant’s culpability. See also Delamota at 385. While it is rare for a trial court to grant a trial order of dismissal on this ground, the Ledwon case remains valid common law in New York and is applicable in the instant matter.” Pp. 5 (internal citations preserved). Indictment dismissed.

Call the Law Offices of Cory H. Morris, 631-450-2515 (NYS) (954) 998-2918 (FLA) for criminal defense, injury, accident, addiction and accountability matters.


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