Appellate Division, Fourth Department
People v. Sanders
Appealed from Monroe County Court
Background: The defendant pleaded guilty to assault first degree by way of a waiver of indictment in 2003. Five years later, in 2008, he was charged with Criminally Negligent Homicide and Misdemeanor Assault on an unrelated matter. The prosecution sought to use the earlier conviction to impose persistent felony offender status. The sentencing judge on the 2008 conviction found that, for enhanced sentencing purposes, the 2003 conviction was unconstitutionally obtained.
After the homicide conviction, the prosecution presented the evidence of the earlier assault to a grand jury and obtained an assault indictment in 2009. The defendant moved to dismiss this indictment on state and constitutional double jeopardy grounds. The prosecution argued that the 2003 conviction was a nullity and reprosecution was therefore not barred. The defense motion to dismiss the new indictment was granted. The prosecution appealed.
Ruling: Order affirmed: the indictment is dismissed on constitutional double jeopardy grounds. The previous assault conviction and the new assault indictment are for the same offense. While constitutional double jeopardy does not bar a second prosecution where the earlier conviction is vacated upon a defendant’s motion or appeal, the 2003 conviction here is still on defendant’s record. “We do not see how there can be two separate convictions on the defendant’s record for the same offense without implicating the constitutional prohibition against double jeopardy.”
Timothy S. Davis for defendant; and Geoffrey Kaeuper for Monroe County District Attorney’s Office