Legal Aid Victories in Court of Appeals

On November 24, 2015, in People v. Adbelouahad Afilal, 2015 NY Slip Op 08616 (Nov. 24, 2015), the New York Court of Appeals unanimously dismissed a criminal court complaint charging the defendant with fifth-degree criminal possession of marijuana. At issue was whether the complaint had adequately pleaded the public place element of that offense. In support of that element, the complaint pleaded that an officer had observed the defendant holding a Ziploc bag of marijuana while the defendant stood “opposite 676 Riverside Drive.”

The Court of Appeals unanimously reversed and dismissed the case. Applying the reasonable-cause standard applicable to complaints, the Court held that an allegation that police observed defendant with marijuana on a sidewalk or in a park would satisfy the public place element. Those allegations were absent from Mr. Afilal’s complaint and the remaining allegations were either conclusory or insufficient.

Seth Steed successfully handled the case in the Court of Appeals.