A New York Criminal Lawyer said on May 11, 1993, the Court of Appeals of New York heard the case of On May 11, 1993, the Court of Appeals of New York heard the case of three appellants regarding sex crimes. The defendants had been convicted of multiple counts of rape and sodomy in the first degree. The defendants picked the victim up from outside a Manhattan dance club and took her to a Brooklyn apartment where they raped and sodomized her. At trial, defense attempted to introduce evidence that supposedly showed that the woman had previously engaged in group sex.
Defense claimed that the trial court had not applied the rape shield law properly at their trial. The defendants also claimed that they were deprived of their Federal constitutional right to present evidence and confront the witnesses against them. In addition, they claimed that the court did not instruct the jury that acquittal was required if the defendants mistakenly believed that the victim had consented to sexual relations.
A Queens Criminal Lawyer said the complainant was 17 years old at the time of the sex crime, and she met the three teenage defendants close to midnight on August 17, 1989. Both the victim and Williams testified and gave completely different accounts of the events of that night. The complainant said that she had come to Manhattan with a group of friends and left the dance club when she began to feel sick. She went to a nearby store when the defendants began talking to her and would not move aside for her to go on her way.
A New York Criminal Lawyer said she claimed that Williams told her that if she cooperated, she would not be hurt. He also hinted that his two friends were armed, so she felt as if she had no other choice but to go with them. The defendants drove her around for a while and then took her to Williams’ apartment where she was forced to have sexual intercourse and sodomy by the three defendants in this sex crime. The group all left together and she was then forced to have oral sex with Williams in the car before they dropped her off at a mass transit station. The girl reported the incident to a police officer at that point.
A Nassau County Criminal Lawyer said when Williams testified, he said that the sexual contact was consensual and that the girl had been affectionate with him in the car. He also claimed that she consented to have sex with him in the bedroom and then with each of his friends. Williams said that she had several chances to leave the car as they were driving around. The defendants were all convicted of multiple counts of rape in the first degree and sodomy in the first degree.
The defendants also challenged the trial court’s use of the rape shield law. The defense counsel asked to have evidence showing that the complainant, who is white, had previously taken part in group sex with black males. The defense had hoped to show the complainant’s motivation to testify against the defendants who were black. The court would not admit the evidence without hearing it. The defendant’s issue was not the substance of the court’s ruling, but the procedure followed before ruling that the evidence could not be admitted under subdivision (5).
The New York rape shield law and that of other states deals with the issue that the sexual past of the victims of sex crimes is frequently used to harass the victim and to confuse jurors. There are some instances when a complainant’s sexual history might be relevant and admissible at the sex crime trial. The Court stated that the trial court met its obligation to hear the “offer of proof.” This is due to the fact that defense counsel had two opportunities to summarize the evidence and offer explanations of its relevance. The trial could have better explained the “interest of justice” exception and why it was inapplicable in the case, but any deficiencies in the procedure did not rise to the level of reversible error.
As far as the defendants’ claim that the court erred when it refused to instruct the jury on the mistake of fact defense and on intent as an element of first degree rape and sodomy. They claim that the jury could have found that even though the complainant did not consent to the sexual relations, the defendants believed that she had. Because forcible compulsion needed to be proven, it was taken into consideration that this may include fear of immediate death or physical injury. The jury found that the defendants used forcible compulsion and that the victim of the sex crime did not consent to the sexual activity. The Court ruled that the trial court did not err by not giving additional instruction to the jury.
The Court reviewed all of the defendant’s claims and found them without merit, and ruled that the order of the Appellate Division should be affirmed.
The dissenting judge, Judge Bellacosa, dissented and voted to reverse and order a new trial. His only basis for granting a new trial was that the court erred by refusing to instruct the jury on the essential criminal intent. He contended that the jury should not have been allowed to base their verdict on misconceptions when there is a simple way to help them find the truth through instructions.
In each case, the order was affirmed.