The defendant is seeking to withdraw his pleas of guilty to two separate charges of criminal possession of a gun in the fourth degree.
The charges against the defendant stem from two different incidents that occurred less than a month apart. On each occasion the defendant was charged with possessing a gravity knife. From January of 2011 through June of 2011, the defendant appeared in court on three occasions and each time he was represented by his own private attorney.
At the court appearance held on June 30th, 2011, there was an extended colloquy on the record between the court, the prosecutor, and the defendant’s attorney. During this session the prosecution had at first recommended a split jail/probation sentence on plea. The defense attorney requested a probation term. The defendant had indicated through his attorney that he wished to plead guilty.
The defendant has now moved for an order to withdraw his pleas of guilty.
Court Discussion and Decision
The court is authorized to allow a defendant to withdraw his plea of guilty. However, this is only allowed in specific circumstances.
In this particular case the defendant has not met the criteria required to have his guilty pleas withdrawn. The motion for the order to allow him to withdraw his guilty pleas or alternatively granting him a hearing is denied.The defendant is appealing a judgment made by the Monroe County Court. The judgment found the defendant guilty of criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree and criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree after he pled guilty to the crime.
The defendant is appealing a judgment that convicted him of criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree and two counts of criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree after he entered a plea of guilty for the crimes.
The defendant contends that the County Court made an error by refusing to suppress the handgun that he discarded when he was being pursued by the police and his subsequent statements to the police because the police lacked reasonable suspicion to justify the pursuit.
At the suppression hearing the People presented evidence that police officers and a federal law enforcement agent were patrolling various areas of the city that are known for gang activities as a way to reduce gun violence.
The officers were travelling in an unmarked cargo van that was followed by an unmarked SUV. Each officer was wearing a vest with police markings.
Just after midnight the officers saw the defendant and two other men standing on a street corner in an area that according to police was known for recent armed robberies and violent gang activity. The driver of the van pulled up just past the three men and rolled down his window and told them that they needed to leave the area.
According to the passengers in the van the defendant reached for his waistband and started to walk away from the other two men. A short time later the defendant started to run. The police followed the defendant and at some point during the chase they discovered a discarded handgun.
The court concludes that the officers had reason to approach the three men on the street corner and to request information. However, there was no justification to support the pursuit of the defendant.
As the pursuit is found to be unjustified, the evidence from the pursuit should have been suppressed.
The court did make an error by allowing this evidence to be used in the case against the defendant. The motion by the defendant to suppress should have been granted as the pursuit and subsequent evidence was not supported.
The judgment that is being appealed from is reversed on the law. The plea is vacated and the portions of the motion seeking to suppress tangible property and statements are granted. The indictment is dismissed and the matter will be remitted to the Monroe County Court for further proceedings.
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