Criminal Defense Cases

THOMAS A. CORLETTA'S PAST CRIMINAL DEFENSE CASES

People v. S. 
In People v. S. (1/25/05), our law office obtained complete exclusion of alleged incriminating statements made by his client, by actually arguing that the statutory notice of these statements was served too early. Mr. Corletta, pointing to the strict language of CPL 710.30(2) argued that the People failed to serve notice of their intention to use these statements after Defendant's arraignment, which is what the statute requires. Instead, the People served notice of these statements prior to Defendant's arraignment. The Town Justice, agreeing with Mr. Corletta in a Decision believed to be the first of its kind in this area, excluded the statements, holding the People had served notice too early, and had not complied with the strict language of the statute.

People v. Capalongo
Subsequent to that Decision, the District Attorney filed a "Superseding Information" and again attempted to offer statements the Court had ruled inadmissible in its prior Decision. Citing established Court of Appeals precedent in People v. Capalongo 85 NY2d 151 (1995), Mr. Corletta once again thwarted the District Attorney's improper attempt to circumvent the Court's previous ruling and the statements remained inadmissible.

People v. R.
"Domestic violence" is a rapidly developing area of criminal law, and often overlaps with family issues of custody, visitation, etc. Mr. Corletta is very familiar with the law governing Orders of Protection, and the concurrent jurisdiction of the Criminal and Family Courts. Recently, in People v. R., Monroe County Court dismissed an Indictment against Mr. Corletta's client because he was being prosecuted for an alleged violation of an Order of Protection in both the Criminal and Family Courts, violating the prohibition against Double Jeopardy, as held by the Court of Appeals in People v. Wood 95 NY2d 509.

People v. BB
In People v. BB. (Perinton Town Ct., 6/14/05), Mr. Corletta achieved another dismissal in a so-called "domestic violence" case involving "threatening" telephone calls. This case demonstrates the ease with which spouses, boyfriends, or girlfriends can place criminal charges against their mates over the use of the telephone when they wish to "break up." Mr. Corletta reviewed the caselaw and achieved an outright dismissal convincing the Court the statements made in the alleged telephone calls did not rise to the level of Harassment.

People v. B. S.
In People v. B. S. (Roch. City Ct., 11/17/05), Mr. Corletta's client had left the jurisdiction. A Bench Warrant had been in effect for over 3 years when the client surrendered. The client, who had moved to Florida, was facing weekends in jail. Mr. Corletta examined the accusatory instrument charging her with Larceny and found that it was replete with hearsay. Mr. Corletta filed a Motion to Dismiss, which was granted. His client was able to return to Florida unimpeded.

People v. D.K.
Mr. Corletta's knowledge of automobile search and seizure law, a complex area, served his client well in People v. D.K. (Rochester City Ct., 12/07/05). In that case, Mr. Corletta's client was detained for traffic violations. Her purse was searched, incident to a "pat-down" search. Mr. Corletta obtained suppression of drugs found in the purse, based upon an unlawful search. Mr. Corletta demonstrated that a State Trooper's search of the purse was improper, as there were no officer safety issues, and no other exigent circumstances. Suppression of the drugs resulted in the case being disposed of with a plea to minor traffic charge, with no other punishment. The client avoided significant punishment, as she had an extensive prior criminal history.

People v. C. J.
Mr. Corletta was successful in combating an unfair procedure frequently used by the Monroe County District Attorney's office in People v. C. J.(Supreme Court, Monroe County, 6/30/06). In that case, Mr. Corletta's client, an 18 year-old with no prior criminal record, was charged with a serious felony weapons offense. He was served with a Grand Jury Notice at his arraignment on a Friday morning, without counsel, which stated the case would be presented to the Grand Jury as a felony the following Tuesday, and that if he wanted to testify, he had to serve written notice.

The young man was incarcerated, and had no ability to hire an attorney over the weekend. His parents were unable to meet with Mr. Corletta until Tuesday, which was too late, as the matter had already been presented to the Grand Jury and an Indictment voted.

Mr. Corletta filed a Motion to Dismiss the Indictment, and successfully argued his client was not afforded reasonable time to retain and/or confer with counsel as to whether he should testify before the Grand Jury. Mr. Corletta made a simple fairness argument, stating it was unfair to expect an 18 year-old unrepresented, incarcerated Defendant to know what to do with a Grand Jury Notice, or to be able to consult with and/or hire counsel, within 3 days with an intervening weekend.

The Court granted Mr. Corletta's motion, stating that it was compelled to agree, given the particular "fact and circumstances here." This Decision marked a victory for the rights of unrepresented criminal Defendants treated unfairly by the District Attorney's "fast track" Grand Jury presentment policy. This seeks to rush cases to the Grand Jury in their early stages at the local criminal Court level, in attempt to force more pleas, often without adequate consultation and/or discovery. In this case the "policy" backfired, because Mr. Corletta's client did not have the benefit of even being able to talk to an attorney prior to his case being presented to the Grand Jury. Therefore, Mr. Corletta successfully defended his client's important right to consult with a lawyer prior to presentment of a felony case to the Grand Jury, which also maintains the fairness and the integrity of the Grand Jury process itself.
Legal representative standing outside of courthouse.
People v. P.A. (Iron. Tn. Ct., 8/9/17)
Mr. Corletta took on a particularly difficult case for an American citizen living in Italy in People v. P.A. (Iron. Tn. Ct., 8/9/17).

 In that case, the client had an outstanding Arrest Warrant from 2002, when the client moved to Italy for emergency family reasons. It involved a rental car that was not been returned on time, which resulted in an “Unauthorized Use” charge. 

 In 2017, the client wished to return to the U.S., once again for family reasons, but the Warrant was lodged, which would have resulted in the client being arrested at any port of entry, or even prevented from getting on a plane in Italy. The client contacted Mr. Corletta from Italy and outlined the situation.

 Taking immediate action, Mr. Corletta first got the case, dormant for 15 years, restored to the Court docket, and then, exercising his knowledge of the law regarding Arrest Warrants, brought a Speedy Trial Motion, since the criminal action had been commenced with the filing of the Arrest Warrant, which was now stale.

 The District Attorney had no defense to the Motion. As a result, the charge was dismissed without opposition. Since the Arrest Warrant was vacated, the client was able to return to the U.S., a scant 2½ months after Mr. Corletta was retained. The client was ecstatic at the quick turnaround time and relieved he could reenter the U.S., in a time of great immigration uncertainty, without having to worry about being detained. 

People v. W. P. (Roch. City Ct., 8/7/17)
In a serious case involving a prior convicted felon who was alleged to have pointed a gun at 3 separate people and fired it at them, Mr. Corletta was able to obtain a complete dismissal in People v. W.P. (Roch. City Ct., 8/7/17).

 In that case, Mr. Corletta’s client, who had done significant prior state prison time, was alleged to have pointed/fired a gun at 3 separate individuals in an altercation at an apartment complex. 

 Examining the Accusatory Instruments, Mr. Corletta immediately noticed inconsistencies in the accounts of all 3 alleged victims, one of whom was on probation, and immediately subpoenaed the surveillance videotape of the apartment building where the incident allegedly occurred, which also housed a business.  

 Upon obtaining the videotape and reviewing the statements, Mr. Corletta was able to demonstrate the charges were fabricated. He filed the appropriate motions challenging probable cause for the arrest and identification testimony. The end result, once trial was reached, was an outright dismissal; a result the client was grateful for, as the client faced certain incarceration if convicted. 

 Mr. Corletta demonstrated that doing the proper “leg work” and making the appropriate applications to the Court often pays off with a dismissal, without even putting the client through the jeopardy of trial.

People v. Anonymous
Mr. Corletta showed the importance of knowing the law in People v. Anonymous (Rochester City Ct., 2/2/06). Mr. Corletta's client was charged with Public Lewdness, for engaging in sexual activity in a County park. However, the alleged activity was engaged in at 9:00 P.M., under cover of darkness, in a remote and deserted area of the park.

People v. H
Ontario County has been likened by many observers to a southern state, due to an extreme pro-prosecutorial atmosphere. Therefore, defense victories are rare. Nonetheless, Mr. Corletta showed the system still works when it functions properly in People v. H (Farmington Town Ct., 8/06). In that case, Mr. Corletta's client was charged with Endangering the Welfare of a Child, because he was allegedly involved in a fight with his brother while his 14 year-old son was present.

At trial, the Assistant District Attorney incredibly did not present the testimony of the son, characterizing him as a "frightened child." She also did not present any testimony from police or witnesses, with no explanation. Instead, she presented the testimony of Defendant's ex-wife, who purportedly received a telephone call from the "child" while the fight was in progress, asking her to come and get him because his father was "fighting with Uncle Jimmy." No description of how the fight started or any other details were offered. Further, the ex-wife was obviously biased against the Defendant.

The People attempted to characterize the "child" as being "unavailable," although he lived with his mother pursuant to a Divorce Decree and Defendant did nothing to prevent his son from being present. Cross-examination revealed that while the mother went straight to the police, she made no attempt to contact Child Protective or to suspend Defendant's visitation rights. The People's "presentation" was limited to the mother's testimony, and the only evidence of the fight was the "child's" hearsay statement and the mother's observation of the house when she arrived to pick him up.

Mr. Corletta made numerous objections to a "prosecution" predicated almost entirely on hearsay. The Court overruled Mr. Corletta's Crawford objection, holding the child's statement was an "excited utterance." However, Mr. Corletta also argued the evidence was grossly insufficient, because no proof whatsoever was presented that the father's conduct was "knowing", as required under the statute. No proof was presented that the father was even aware his son was present during the fight. Nor was there any evidence the father's conduct started or continued the fight.

In short, the People presented no evidence the father "knowingly" engaged in fisticuffs with his son present, which is required by the statute. Accordingly, the Court, citing these deficiencies in the People's "proof," found Defendant not guilty.
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