Case Title and Citation: People v. Stasio, 396 A.2d 1129 (1979)
Robert Colburn, a patron, decided to go to Silver Moon Tavern on October 7th to play some pool and to have some alcoholic beverages. Colburn was playing pool at about 11 am then about an hour later at 12 pm, Stasio joined him and they stayed together until 3 pm. During the time Stasio and Colburn were together and Stasio was drinking, but he left the bar at about 3:00 pm. In Colburn’s opinion, Stasio did not seem to be intoxicated when he left and his speech nor his mannerisms seemed to sound or look like of someone who is drunk. Part owner of the Silver Moon Tavern, Peter Klimek arrived at the bar a little bit before 5:00 pm to start his shift. At about 5:40 pm there was said to be about eight customers at the tavern, and then defendant Stasio walked backing into the tavern. Walking normally Stasio walked into the bathroom. After that he came out and went to the front door and looked outside of the bar. After looking out he then walked back to the bar and demanded Klimek to give him money. Klimek refusing, Stasio went back behind the bar and demanded Klimek to give him the $80 from the cash register. Klimek then again refused, and Stasio then pulled out a knife. Klimek, grabbed Stasio’s hand. Then Colburn, jumped on top of the bar and grabbed Stasio’s hair and pushed his head toward the bar then Stasio dropped the knife. Immediately after police showed up, Officer Robert Rowan put the defendant in custody. Officer Rowan also testified that Stasio didn’t appear drunk. Also, he did not notice odor of alcohol on the defendants breath. He also said that Stasio responded to his questions and seemed to walk normally and not of someone who was drunk.
Defendant, Stasio was found guilty of assault with the intent to rob. Also, he was found guilty of assault while being armed with a knife. While being found guilty of both offenses Stasio was sentenced to three to five years for assault. With that Sentence he was also sentenced with a concurrent term of one to two years for the second count of assault while being armed with a knife. The Appellate division reversed the defendant’s convictions and ordered a new trial.
1. Whether voluntary intoxication constitutes a viable defense to a crime?
1. Yes, Voluntary intoxication constitutes a defense to a crime. Alcohol may play part in reckless decision making and misconduct.
The reasoning for the decision that was made is that, Alcohol could or may have diminished the thought or decision making process of Stasio. Having that prior statements showed that he was not behaving properly. The newer Criminal Code of Justice declares that a person is not guilty of an offense unless “he acted purposely, knowingly, recklessly, or negligently, as the law may require.” Even though voluntary intoxication could be used as a defense to a crime, it can’t always be applied or be applied.
Justice Handler, J., Concurs
Case Title and Citation: People V. Gaines, 74 N.Y.2d 358 (1989)
On February 2, 1985, the defendant was arrested when he emerged from the window of a building supply company. The defendant was wearing coveralls and a jacket that belonged to a company employee over his own clothing. Inside the building several desks were in disarray. but other than the defendant wearing the companies clothing, but no tools for a burglary were found and nothing seemed to be missing from the premise of the building. The defendant testified on his own, and claimed that on February 2 he left a homeless shelter because he did not have enough money to stay there. He said he was going to go stay at a friend’s place. His friend was out, so he kept walking until he got to the supply company. He pushed the window in because he wanted to get out of the cold and the heavy snow that was falling. The defendant claimed that he didn’t touch any desks or the company safe, but put on the clothing and sat near a heating vent to stay warm until he heard the police officers approaching.
The defendant was charged with felony charge in the third degree for burglary. Without any elaboration on the case the court decided to charge the defendant since they found him guilty of burglary. The appellate division affirmed the defendant’s conviction, with the two justices dissenting, 147 A.D.2d 891, 537 N.Y.S.2d 360. They also concluded that the trail court erred in denying the defendants request and reverse the burglary charge and order a new trial.
1. Did the court err in making the decision that the defendant “unlawfully” enter the building, and if so, did the defendant commit a felony burglary in the third degree?
1. The court did err in charging the defendant. Even though the defendant did enter the building unlawfully, there was not a sign of intent to commit a crime. To be guilty of burglary for the unlawful entry, “a defendant must have had the intent to commit a crime at the time of entry. In either event, contemporaneous intent is required.”
In common law burglary is defined as “breaking and entering of a dwelling of another, at night, with intent to commit a felony therein.” Hechtman, Practice Commentaries, McKinney’s Cons. Laws of N.Y., Book 39, Penal Law art. 140, at 5 1975.) The penal law in 1965 was changed and revised to that burglary can also be defined as “knowingly enters or remains unlawfully in a building with intent to commit a crime therein.” (Penal Law § 140.20). The most important ruling in the case was that the defendant was entitled to a charge clearly stating the “jury must find that he intended to commit a crime at the time he entered the premise unlawfully.” Since the defendant stated that he did not indent to commit a crime but only entered the building to stay warm, the court was more focused on the intent and were misled to believing that any “illegal entry constituted burglary when couples with a subsequent crime,” such as trespass.
ALEXANDER, BELLACOSA, JJ., C.J., HANCOCK, SIMONS, TITONE, WACHTLER,
Case Title and Citation: People V. Mackey, 49 N.Y.2d 274 (1980)
The compliant/ victim was awoken at 1:30 am in her bedroom by a man she testified as a stranger, also who had no business being in her house. After the defendant had left, the compliant had found a window open in another room of the house. She also saw a storm window screen had been taken off and removed from the house and propped on a window. About twelve feet from the house a textbook, pamphlet, registration, and a receipt which the defendant did identify those items being his. everything being found and the seeing windows opened, when the defendant was confronted a short distance from the house he first stated, “I live here” but then went onto stating “Well, I don’t live here. I used to live here. I’m visiting friends” The complainant lives in a double family house where the complainant’s sister previously lived in one apartment, but at the time of the incident now the complainant lives in and now two of her other sisters live as tenants in the basement apartment. The complainant said that she had moved out three months prior to the incident, but “swore that though the defendant has been present in the house while the complainant lived there, the defendant and the complainant were never in each others present.”
The defendant was convicted and charged with rape in the first degree and burglary in the second degree. The burglary charge accused the defendant of, “knowingly entering and unlawfully remaining in the dwelling of (complainant) with intent to commit a crime therein, but did not specify the crime he was accused of intending to commit…” Although the defendant was not convicted of rape he appealed to a higher court to get his charges reversed, but his appeal was denied.
1. Did the court make an error when denying the defendant motion to reverse the charges?
1. No, the court was not in err or make any errors when denying a reversal of the charges.
The reason the court denied the reversal of the charges made on the defend was that he stayed consistent and that the people had to prove a “beyond reasonable doubt” that he had no license or privilege to enter or being in the complaints dwelling. The people only need to prove intent of a crime for a crime to be seen as a crime. Also in, “People v. Terry, 43 A.D.2d 875, 351 N.Y.S.2d 184, recognized that the intent necessary for burglary can be inferred from the circumstances of the entry itself. Also, in People v. Gilligan, 42 N.Y.2d 969, 398 N.Y.S.2d 269, 367 N.E.2d 867 we made clear that the People need prove only that defendant intended to commit a crime during his illegal presence in the building, for we there held that defendant’s intent to commit a crime on entering the building “could be inferred beyond a reasonable doubt from the circumstances of the breaking”. The out-of-State cases on which the dissent relies proceed from the premise that the burglary statute “is a proscription on entry of a dwelling with any one or more of a certain category of specific intents and not merely a proscription against entry with a generally evil or criminal intent” If one or more categories of intent is checked off in the statue it does show intent, and that mean its is a criminal act, in which the people showed the court, therefore the denial of a reversal on the charges made on the defendant.