Legal Memorandum: Accusatory Instruments – Sufficiency on Face

Issue: In New York, should a court dismiss charges based on an information that fails to establish a prima facie case that the defendant committed any of the offenses charged?

Area of Law: Criminal Law
Keywords: Facially sufficient; Accusatory instrument; Factual adequacy
Jurisdiction: New York
Cited Cases: 511 N.E.2d 71; 68 N.Y.2d 729; 497 N.E.2d 686; 703 N.Y.S.2d 690; 674 N.Y.S.2d 566; 517 N.Y.S.2d 927; 70 N.Y.2d 133; 506 N.Y.S.2d 319; 712 N.Y.S.2d 843; 581 N.Y.S.2d 117
Cited Statutes: CPL § 100.40; CPL § 100.15(2); CPL § 100.15(3); CPL § 100.30(1), § 100.40(1)(c)
Date: 10/01/2000

To be facially sufficient, an information must comply with the requirements of CPL § 100.40 (McKinney 1992).  These elements consist of two distinct parts:  (1) The “accusatory part” must designate each and every offense charged. CPL § 100.15(2); People v. Palmer, 16 Misc.2d 813, 674 N.Y.S.2d 566 (1998).  (2)  The “factual part” must allege “facts of an evidentiary nature which support or tend to support the crimes charged.”  CPL § 100.15(3); People v. Dumas, 68 N.Y.2d 729, 730, 506 N.Y.S.2d 319, 320, 497 N.E.2d 686, 687 (1986). The phrase “factual allegations of an evidentiary nature” means “nonconclusory descriptions of what the deponent personally observed, heard or experienced.”  People v. Stridiron, 667 N.Y.S.2d 621, 623 (N.Y. City Crim. Ct. 1997). Included in the factual part of the information are all factual allegations in the supporting depositions that provide reasonable cause to believe that the defendant committed the crimes charged.  CPL § 100.40(b). A supporting deposition filed in connection with an accusatory instrument must be subscribed and verified by any manner prescribed in CPL § 100.30(1).  In judging the factual adequacy of the accusatory instrument, the court may consider both the information and any supporting deposition. CPL § 100.15(3).

Unlike other accusatory instruments, however, Section 100.40(1)(c) also states unequivocably that an information must contain verified, non-hearsay factual allegations and/or supporting depositions which establish, if true, every element of the offense charged and the defendant’s commission of each element of the offense.  CPL §100.15(3); § 100.40(1)(c).  An information that fails to satisfy […]

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