Many people fail to realize how complicated state and federal laws can be. It is not as simple as saying someone committed a crime and then convicting that person of the crime. There are a number of details that must be established and procedures that must be followed, which an average person facing these charges might not realize. It is for this reason that many people who are charged with a crime choose to work with a criminal defense attorney to defend themselves.
One recent case in Brooklyn serves as a good example of how important it can be to pay close attention to the letter of the law and to paperwork. A man was facing multiple weapons charges, including criminal possession of a firearm. However, a judge recently ruled that the charges should be dismissed because of mistakes in the paperwork filed by the prosecution.
One mistake was the failure to mention an exception in the law that the man was accused of violating. It is unlawful to have a firearm within 1,000 feet of school grounds. However, there is an exception to this law, and that is if a person is inside his or her home or business that falls within that 1,000-foot boundary. For the indictment to be valid, it must include allegations of “every element of the offense charged,” including any exception. In this case, no mention of the exception was made in the indictment, which was therefore ruled defective.
Other errors that were made in the charging papers included shortened criminal law titles and references to outdated definitions, which made the documents legally insufficient. The weapons charges directly affected by these errors were dismissed.
These details can be the difference between imprisonment and freedom, so it is crucial that they are closely examined and challenged, when appropriate. This case is a strong example of how simple procedures and technicalities can be scrutinized for errors in the interest of dismissing charges.
Source: Brooklyn Daily Eagle, “Technical deficiencies upset Brooklyn prosecutor’s weapons case,” Charisma L. Miller, Dec. 3, 2013