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What are the rules regarding indictments and superior court information exclusive methods of prosecution in New York?

By Spodek Law Group | May 26, 2016
(Last Updated On: February 28, 2023)

Last Updated on: 28th February 2023, 10:41 am

Indictment and Superior Court Information Exclusive Methods of Prosecution

The only methods of prosecuting an offense in a superior court are by an indictment filed by a grand jury, or else by a superior court information filed by a district attorney.

Requirement of and Methods of Securing Defendant’s Appearance for Arraignment Upon Indictment

After an indictment’s been filed with a superior court, the defendant has to be arraigned. They must appear personally at this arraignment, and their appearance can be secured as follows if the defendant was held previously by a local criminal court for the action of the grand jury, and if they’re confined in the custody of the sheriff, the superior court has to direct the sheriff to produce the defendant for arraignment on a specified date, and then the sheriff must comply with this direction. The court has to give at least two days notice of the time and place of the arraignment to an attorney, or if no notice of appearance has been filed, to an attorney who filed a notice of appearance on behalf of the defendant with the local criminal court. If a felony complaint against the defendant was pending in a criminal court, or else if the defendant was previously held by a criminal court for action of the grand jury, and if the defendant’s at liberty on his or her own recognizance or on bail relating to a previous court order issued in the same criminal action, the superior court on at least two days notice to the defendant has to direct the defendant to appear before the superior court for arraignment on a specified date. If the defendant fails to appear on said date, the court can issue a bench warrant and, in addition, can forfeit the bail, if any.
On taking the defendant into custody in reltion to this bench warrant, the executing police officer must bring the defendant before the superior court for arraignment without delay. If the superior court isn’t available, the executing police officer can bring the defendant to the local correctional facility of the county where the superior court sits, to be detained there until no later than the commencement of the next session of the court, all occurring on the next business day. If the defendant hasn’t previously been held by a criminal court for action of the grand jury and the filing of the indictment constitutes the commencement of criminal action, the superior court has to order the indictment to be filed as a sealed instrument until the defendant’s produced or appears for arraignment, and must issue a superior court warrant of arrest. On the request of the DA, in lieu of a superior court arrest warrant, the court can issue a summons if it’s satisfied the defendant will respond to it. On the request of the DA, in lieu of an arrest warrant or summons, the court can instead authorize the DA to direct the defendant to appear for arraignment on a designated date if it’s satisfied the defendant will appear. A superior court arrest warrant is executable anywhere in the state. Said warrant can be addressed to any police officer whose geographical employment area embraces either the place where the crime charged was allegedly committed, or the location of the court where the warrant is issued. It has to be executed in the same way as an ordinary arrest warrant, and following the arrest the executing police officer must without delay perform all of the recording, fingerprinting, photographing, and any other preliminary police duties that are required in the particular case, and bring the defendant before the superior court. If the superior court isn’t available, the executing police officer can bring the defendant to the local correctional facility of the county in which the superior court sits, to be detained there until no later than the commencement of the next session of the court occurring on the next business day.

How are crimes charged in New York State?

Each count of an indictment may only charge one offense. A statutory provision that defines the crime named in the title by providing different ways in which the named crime might be committed defines a separate crime, and a count of an indictment charging this named crime alleges facts that would support a conviction, charges more than one crime.

What about consolidation of indictments against different defendants?

Two or more defendants can be jointly charged in a single indictment, provided that all of the defendants are jointly charged with every offense that’s alleged, or that all the offenses charged are based on a common scheme or plan, or that all of the crimes charged are based on the same criminal transaction as the term’s defined in subdivision two of section 40.10, or if the indictment includes a count charging enterprise corruption, that all of the defendants are jointly charged with every count of enterprise corruption that’s been alleged. Every offense, other than a count alleging enterprise corruption is a criminal act that’s specifically included in the pattern of criminal activity that the charges of enterprise corruption are based on, and each of the defendants could’ve been jointly charged with at least one of the other defendants, absent an enterprise corruption count, all of course under the provisions, in an accusatory instrument that charges at least one criminal act. Joinder will not be precluded on the grounds that a specifically included criminal act that’s necessary to permit joinder isn’t currently prosecutable when standing alone, by reason of a previous prosecution or else lack of geographical jurisdiction. Even in this case, the court, on motion of a defendant, or else the people made in the time period, are allowed for good cause shown order in its discretion that any defendant might be tried separately from the other, or else from one or more or all of the others. Good cause will include, but not be limited to, a finding that a defendant or the people will actually be unduly prejudiced by a joint trial or, in the case of a prosecution that involves a charge of enterprise corruption, a finding that proof of one or more criminal acts that were alleged to have been committed by one defendant but not one of the others creates a likelihood that the jury might not be able to consider the proof separately as it relates to each defendant, or in this kind of a case, given the scope of the pattern of criminal activity that’s been charged against all the defendants, a particular defendant’s comparatively minor role in it might create a likelihood of prejudice to them. On finding this prejudice, the court can order the counts to be tried separately, grant a severance of defendants, or even provide whatever other relief that justice requires. When two or more defendants are charged in separate indictments with an offense, but could’ve been charged in a single indictment, the court is allowed to order that the indictments be consolidated and the charges be heard in a single trial. If the indictments also charge crimes that are not properly the subject of a single indictment, those crimes will not be consolidated, but will remain in existence and may be separately prosecuted.

What must an indictment contain?

An indictment must contain the name of the superior court where it’s filed, the title of the action and, where the defendant’s a juvenile offender, a statement in the title that the defendant’s charged as a juvenile offender, and a separate accusation or count that’s addressed to each crime charged, if there’s more than one.

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