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Court won't toss Misspelt traffic Ticket

If my name is spelt wrong, can I get the tickets thrown out? If it is the wrong date of birth, will my ticket be tossed? Perhaps... Perhaps Not...

Defendant Minott, Craig was charged with one count of Assault in the Third Degree (PL § 120.00[3]), one count of Reckless Endangerment in the Second Degree (PL § 120.20), and one count of Reckless Driving (VTL § 1212). This case is regarding, among other things, whether the criminal accusation, the accusatory instrument, is invalid for alleging inaccurate facts.

"The criminal court information alleges that on September 30, 2019, at approximately 2:21 p.m., a truck driven by the Defendant struck a pedestrian who was crossing the street. Specifically, the information alleges that the complaining witness was crossing Chatham Square from West to East, outside of the crosswalk, when the Defendant, driving "a Brink [sic] armored truck," made a left-hand turn from Division Street to Chatham Square."

The Defendant is charged with reckless driving, serious driving offense under New York State Criminal Law. One often hires a criminal defense attorney knowledgeable with this serious traffic offense because of the implications for one's license, or, worse, the impact of reckless driving on a commercial driver's license. "The truck struck the pedestrian, knocking him to the ground. NYPD Detective Michael Murphy reviewed dash camera video footage from the interior of the truck, which showed that the Defendant had a cellular phone balanced on his left thigh, and glanced down at it repeatedly while he operated the truck. The Defendant was looking down at the phone as he made the left-hand turn and struck the pedestrian. The pedestrian was rendered unconscious on the ground, bleeding from his ears. He was transported to a hospital, and, upon regaining consciousness, was unable to speak or walk."

The information contains certain typographical errors. The legal landscape regarding such errors has recently changed with the Court of Appeals' decision in People v. Hardy, 35 NY3d 466 (2020). In that case, the defendant was charged with violating an order of protection for an incident that had occurred on January 25, 2015. (Id at 469.) The accusatory instrument, however, incorrectly stated the incident date as October 25, 2015, a date that had yet to occur and fell after the expiration of the order of protection. (Id.) The Court of Appeals found that the trial court had erred when it permitted the People to amend the accusatory instrument to correct the incident date, holding that the Criminal Procedure Law ("CPL") precludes prosecutors "from curing factual errors or deficiencies in informations and misdemeanor complaints via amendment." (Id at 468-69.)...
As in Hardy, the information here contains typographical errors in the factual allegations. The parties did not raise this issue in their papers; however, a consideration of the implication of these errors in light of Hardy is warranted, pursuant to the Court's independent obligation to ensure that it retains subject matter jurisdiction. (People v Abrams, 59 Misc 3d 1220[A] [Sup Ct, Queens Cty 2018]; People v Barber, 42 Misc 3d 1225[A] [Crim Ct, NY Cty 2014].)

The court states the law, "[s]o long as the factual allegations of an information give an accused notice sufficient to prepare a defense and are adequately detailed to prevent a defendant from being tried twice for the same offense, they should be given a fair and not overly restrictive or technical reading." (People v Casey, 95 NY2d 354, 360 [2000].) So, no, you do not get away with "it" because the officer wrote the ticket wrong. Yes, even your name or date of birth may not mean you are "getting off" of a serious crime.

The Court notes that:

"[T]he distinction between jurisdictional and nonjurisdictional defects is between defects implicating the integrity of the process. .. and less fundamental flaws, such as evidentiary or technical matters." (People v Hightower, 18 NY3d 249, 254 [2011], citing People v Dreyden, 15 NY3d 100, 103 [2010].) In Hardy, the incorrect date constituted a fundamental jurisdictional defect because it negated an element of the alleged crime: the defendant was charged with violating an order of protection, but the purported date of the crime fell outside the bounds of the order of protection. (Hardy, 35 NY3d at 475-76.)

So, in this case, the references to "Chatham Street," rather than "Chatham Square," do not negate an element of the crime. (Hardy, 35 NY3d at 466.) Changing the word "Street" to the word "Square" would not "convert[] a facially insufficient accusatory instrument into a facially sufficient instrument." (Id at 475-76.) Nor do the errors implicate the reasonable cause requirement. (Hightower, 18 NY3d at 254.)

The case is People v. Minott, 2021 N.Y. Slip Op 50112 (Crim. Ct. 2021).and the Court Holds that "The errors in the information thus do not implicate 'the integrity of the process' and do not render the information facially insufficient. (Hightower, 18 NY3d at 254.) It may nonetheless be best practice for the People to file a superseding information to correct these errors, (Hardy, 35 NY3d at 469), particularly since the information also inverts the Defendant's first and last names."

Cory H. Morris, Esq. New York and Florida, Injury, Addiction, Accident, Call the Law Offices of Cory H. Morris, 631-450-2515 (NYS) (954) 998-2918 (FLA) if you are facing any accusation.


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