“Within the context of a misdemeanor information, is the reasonable cause requirement satisfied where the officer concludes, without any factual support, that an object recovered from a defendant is a gravity knife?”

Andrew Tabashneck is a criminal defense and family law attorney in buffalo new york

Andrew S. Tabashneck is a Criminal Defense and Family Law Attorney in Buffalo NY

Under New York’s Criminal Procedure Law 100.15(3) and CPL 100.40(4)(b), The factual part of a misdemeanor complaint must allege ‘facts of an evidentiary character’ demonstrating ‘reasonable cause’ to believe the defendant committed the crime charged.

Under Penal Law 265.00(5), a gravity knife is defined as one with a blade that (1) is released from the handle or sheath thereof by the force of gravity or the application of centrifugal force and that (2) “when released, is locked in place by means of a button, spring, lever or other device.” This definition characterizes gravity knives as distinct from folding knives which cannot be opened by gravity or centrifugal force.  It further requires the blade lock in place automatically upon its release and without further action by the user.

According to case law in New York, specifically the New York Court of Appeals case People v. Dreyden, a conclusory statement that an object recovered from a defendant is a gravity knife does not alone meet the reasonable cause requirement. In the Dreyden case, an arresting officer should, at the very least, explain briefly, with reference to his training and experience, how he or she formed the belief the object observed in defendant’s possession was a gravity knife.

Without such an explanation, the New York Court of Appeals explained, the accusatory instrument lacks the required factual basis to support the officer’s conclusion that the knife was a gravity knife, as opposed to a pocket knife, craft knife or other type of knife that does not fit the definition of a per se weapon as defined in Penal Law article 265.

Clearly, the law is quite complicated. Please be advised, this is not legal advice. For a free consultation,

Contact Andrew Tabashneck today.

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