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Obstruction of Government Administration Dismissed

Accusatory Instruments that are Legally Insufficient are subject to Dismissal. In People v. Williams, Criminal Defense Attorneys should take note that this accused crime is often charged with vague and, here, legally insufficient allegations which will be dismissed if the Criminal Defense Lawyer files a motion.

Here, "The defendant, charged by a superseding misdemeanor information with one count of Petit Larceny (PL §155.25), one count of Harassment in the Second Degree (PL §240.26) and one count of Obstructing Governmental Administration in the Second Degree (PL §195.05), makes this omnibus motion seeking an order: 1) dismissing Count Three of the accusatory instrument pursuant to CPL §170.30 on the grounds that it is facially insufficient." Putting aside the issue of hearings, most of which were either granted or simply allowed by the prosecution, the issue of legal sufficiency at issue here serves to dismiss the information:

The sufficiency of an information must be determined by a reading of the face of the instrument itself, together with any supporting depositions accompanying it. People v. Casey, 95 NY2d 354, 361 (2000); People v. Grabinski, 189 Misc2d 307 (App Term, 2d Dept 2001). Pursuant to CPL §100.40(1) an information is sufficient on its face when the allegations of the factual portion of the accusatory instrument, together with any supporting depositions, provide reasonable cause to believe that the defendant committed the offense charged in the accusatory part of the instrument and non-hearsay allegations of the factual part of the information and/or any supporting depositions establish, if true, every element of the offense charged and the defendant’s commission thereof. People v. Alejandro, 70 N.Y.2d 133 (1987). Reasonable cause to believe that a person has committed an offense exists when evidence or information which appears reliable discloses facts or circumstances which are collectively of such weight and persuasiveness as to convince a person of ordinary judgment and experience that it is reasonably likely that such offense was committed and that such person committed it. CPL §70.10(2).

In the case at bar, PO Beato of the Mount Vernon Police Department alleges in the accusatory instrument the evidentiary facts that "the defendant did intentionally obstruct, impair or prevent an officer from performing an official function by refusing your deponent’s lawful orders to stop running away from the police." The Criminal Defense Lawyer, correctly so, alleged that "the accusatory fails to allege facts sufficient to establish that the defendant’s actions in running away was an unlawful act nor was it the type of physical interference contemplated by the statute" for which the People merely state "that the defendant matched the description of a suspect in a robbery and defendant’s running away from the officer after he had been told to stop physically interfered with the police officer’s official function in that he was investigating a crime in progress." The Crime of Obstructing Governmental Administration, Penal Law §195.05 provides that "A person is guilty of obstruction of governmental administration when he intentionally obstructs, impairs or perverts the administration of law or other governmental function or prevents or attempts to prevent a public servant from performing an official function, by means of intimidation, physical force or interference, or by means of any independently unlawful act,… "

The Court Holds that "A facially sufficient information charging the crime of obstructing governmental administration in the second degree must set forth adequate factual allegations to establish that the public servant was engaged in a specific action at the time of the physical interference, or independently unlawful act, and not just on duty." Citing People v. Joseph, 156 Misc 2d 192 (Crim Ct Kings County 1992). The charge is dismissed because, among other things, "when charging obstruction of governmental administration in the second degree the factual allegations contained therein must delineate what the obstruction and official function consist of to be sufficient." People v. Cacsere, 185 Misc 2d 92 (2d Dept 2000) (citing Matter of Carlos G., 215 AD2d 165).

The Court agrees with the Defendant, the Criminal Defense Lawyer's contention, that "fleeing from a police officer, in and of itself, is not a crime and does not amount to the type of physical force or interference required by the statute even if the defendant is a suspect of a police investigation." The Court cites the following cases for this proposition: People v. Tillman, 184 Misc.2d 20 (Auburn City Court 2000)(holding that defendant’s flight from a police officer conducting a narcotics investigation, where the defendant was a suspect, does not constitute physical interference with an official function, and as such, does not constitute the crime of obstructing governmental administration)); People v. Brown, 46 Misc3d 1212(A)(Rochester City Ct 2015)(holding that where defendant was a suspect of a possible burglary his flight from the police and refusal to stop when ordered to do so did not constitute the crime of obstructing governmental administration); People v. Offen, 96 Misc2d 147 (Crim Ct NYC 1978).

Criminal Attorneys know that there is little to lose without the filing of a motion to challenge the charges - here it means that the Court grants defendant’s motion to dismiss Count Three of the accusatory instrument - Obstructing Governmental Administration in the Second Degree is dismissed for facial insufficiency.

The case is People v. Williams, and highlights why it is important for the defense attorney to move and the court to evaluate the sufficiency of the accusatory instruments even though the prosecutor is charged with swearing that the accusatory instrument is sufficient.

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)

Call 631-450-2515 or E-Mail to arrange for an evaluation of your criminal defense, appellate matter or for assistance in filing a criminal defense motion.


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