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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