On October 16, 1997, a male identified only as C.B. made a videotaped confession to a Bronx Assistant District Attorney following his arrest. During the confession, C.B. discussed numerous criminal offenses and described on at least 11 different occasions on which he had entered private residences unlawfully and in some cases, masturbated onto a sleeping female victim. He also claims to be an exhibitionist and states that he needs help because he has a problem or illness that made him repeatedly commit the crimes.
C.B.’s criminal defense attorney subsequently filed a motion with the Bronx County Supreme Court to exclude statements made in the confession that related to the charges he was arrested on. The motion also included a request to exclude testimony from the victims and the minutes of the Grand Jury proceedings. Specifically, defense counsel argued that the victim should be precluded from testifying at trial since the statements offered would be irrelevant; that the videotaped confession should be excluded since it contains evidence of unrelated and uncharged crimes; that the videotape itself was prejudicial; and that C.B. was not competent to testify as to his own mental capacity.
An Article 10 hearing was scheduled on April 9, 2009, to determine whether the tape confession should be admitted. Defense counsel also argued that the tape’s admission would violate C.B.’s constitutional rights and that Grand Jury testimony should be precluded since it was never referenced in the charges or plea allocution and should not be disclosed without a court order.
The Supreme Court held that the statements on the tape constituted admissions against interest. Accordingly, declarations or statements made be a defendant may be included in evidence as an admission if the statements are material to the issue at hand. The court held that the videotaped statements had a direct bearing on whether or not he did indeed suffer from a mental incapacity or abnormality. According to Article 10, a mental abnormality includes a congenital or acquired condition, disease or disorder that affects emotional and cognitive capacity in such a way that causes an individual to be inclined to commit sexual offenses and renders them unable to stop.
The court held that since C.B. admitted at least 11 different inappropriate sexual acts, this constituted evidence of his tendency to commit sexual offenses and his inability to control his actions. The fact that he also admitted to other crimes for which he was never charged did not detract from the credibility or relevance of the taped confession. In addition, the court held that his admissions regarding the uncharged crimes were not necessarily prejudicial and that the evidence could be viewed as admissible if it was relevant to a material issue in the case.
The court was also asked to consider whether C.B. was sufficiently competent to testify as to his own mental condition. The court held that there was a substantial difference between testifying as to one’s mental condition and past statements or actions that could provide evidence of an individual’s mental capacity. Specifically, C.B.’s statements did not qualify as expert testimony regarding his mental condition but they are indicative of evidence that the jury may consider in evaluating expert testimony offered at trial and in drawing conclusions about his present mental state.
With regard to C.B.’s due process rights, his criminal defense attorney argued that his client may have challenged the voluntariness of his statements if he had known that they might be used against him at a civil commitment proceeding. The court held that the fact that he might not have plead guilty had he been aware that the outcome of a future civil proceeding might be based on his prior criminal conviction did not merit a renewed right to suppress the confession.
The court did acknowledge that a party in a civil proceeding may deny an admission or submit evidence involving the circumstances in which an admission was offered.
In addition, the court chose to limit the admission of the videotape only to those portions up to and including the incident which occurred on May 29, 1997, which included six incidents in total. The court chose this option based on the belief that the incidents described in that half of the tape were factually similar to the offenses for which C.B. was charged and included sufficient statements regarding his mental capacity.
Defense counsel sought to exclude the victim from testifying at trial on the grounds that the testimony would be irrelevant. The court agreed that allowing the victim to testify would likely be prejudicial to the case. The court did however, disagree with defense counsel’s motion to exclude the Grand Jury testimony.
Facing trial for a sex offense can be a frightening experience and one that you should not undertake without the advice and help of an experienced New York criminal defense attorney. The aid of a qualified attorney is key to protecting your rights and proving your innocence.
The law firm of Stephen Bilkis and Associates is committed to aggressively defending individuals who’ve been charged with sexual abuse, rape or other inappropriate sexual acts. Call 1-800-NY-NY-LAW to speak with a member of our criminal defense team or visit one of our New York area offices to discuss your case in person. Don’t face the judge and jury alone. Call Stephen Bilkis and Associates today to get the experienced legal representation you need to fight a sex crimes charge in the New York area.