Articles Posted in Theft Cases

In a recent opinion from a New York court involving a robbery conviction, the court denied the defendant’s request to suppress his incriminating statements. The defendant was found guilty of robbery in the second degree and the third degree; he appealed by arguing that the officer that arrested him lacked probable cause to make the arrest in the first place, and thus that any statements that came after the arrest should be excluded from court. The court disagreed, ultimately denying the defendant’s appeal.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant was driving his car when he rolled through a stop sign and was stopped by a police officer. The officer asked to see the defendant’s driver’s license, registration, and insurance; as he pulled out these items, the officer noticed a can of pepper spray in the defendant’s glove compartment. The officer also noticed during the stop that the defendant’s car matched the make, color, and partial license plate number of a car that had been involved in robberies in the same area the previous evening. The officer also remembered that during these robberies, one of the victims was pepper-sprayed in the eyes.

Given the circumstances, the officer arrested the defendant for criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree, inferring from what he noticed during the stop that the defendant was a suspect for the crime. After the arrest, the defendant made incriminating statements that were later used against him in court. After trial, the defendant was convicted of three counts of robbery in the second degree as well as robbery in the third degree.

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Lawmakers draft criminal statutes very intentionally, and every word in a law should have meaning. Thus, when courts are tasked with determining whether certain conduct falls within the scope of a criminal law, the first place the court looks is to the language contained in the statute itself.

In some cases, reading a statute and coming to a conclusion is not a difficult task. However, other situations present circumstances that the drafters of the law may not have thought of when they wrote the law. The court, then, must decide what the legislature’s intention was, and whether the facts in front of the court fit within the statute.

A good example of this is a recent New York theft case, in which the defendant was charged with grand larceny in the fourth degree. According to the court’s opinion, the defendant was a personal assistant to the alleged victim. As the woman’s personal assistant, the defendant had access to her corporate credit card information and her Uber account information.