Three variations of the simplified information are defined in CPL § 100.15 as “a written accusation by a police officer or other public servant authorized by law to issue the same…”

[i] Each variation corresponds to a different department or code of law (traffic, parks, or environmental conservation), but function in the same way. The Commissioners of each department define the guidelines their officers must follow for filing the form designating any offense(s) charged under their jurisdiction. As with all information, the simplified information serves as the basis for prosecution, however unlike an information the simplified information does not contain any factual allegations.

You have the right to a Supporting Deposition.

Whereas an information is subject to CPL § 100.15, the simplified information is subject to CPL § 100.25. This statue secures the defendant’s right to a supporting deposition containing allegations of fact at the request of the defendant. CPL § 150.20 requires that every simplified information provide the defendant notice of this right;   however, – the right to request a supporting deposition is not indefinite.

Traffic Law is not Penal Law.

Clients often expect rights they enjoy in criminal matters to apply equally in traffic matters. Though similar and often intertwined, driving is a privilege – and a valid license is an agreement to waive some of those rights in exchange for that privilege.

Common, Overlooked Distinctions

An information may be dismissed as insufficient when it does not substantially subscribe to the requirements of CPL § 100.15, but a simplified traffic information, for instance, “need only be in substantial compliance with the form prescribed by the Commissioner of the Motor Vehicles.”[ii]

In People v. Quinn, the court ruled in favor of a distinction between a supporting deposition required by CPL § 100.20 and a supporting deposition requested by a defendant under CPL § 100.25.[iii] In Quinn, the court noted the absurdity of interpreting the law to require having two police in every vehicle or a civilian witness to validate a traffic stop.

A summons was distinguished from a simplified traffic information in Steiger v. Wozniak, and the court ruled that the requirements of CPL 100.25 did not apply to the supporting deposition in that matter.[iv]

In the past, the court has protected the defendant’s right to a supporting deposition with the constitutionally guaranteed right to speedy trial.  As in the matter of People v. Mercurio, when the proper request for a supporting deposition is not replied to within the permissible time, a traffic charge can be dismissed.  In all matters of law, you should consult an attorney prior to any action to assess which laws most favorably apply to your circumstances.

Did they get you?

A simplified information is far from simple. As demonstrated in this article with the supporting deposition, a ‘simple’ difference in procedural law can easily cause the Defendant to become lost in the ambiguous domain of jurisdictions, and end up making an invalid case against the wrong statute.  Representing clients with charges in both Criminal Law and Traffic Law has enabled me to successfully identify these differences and get my clients where they want to be.

The Law Office of John C. Nelson represents people throughout Erie County including Springville Village Court, Concord Town Court, Sardinia Town Court, Boston Town Court, Cheektowaga Town Court, the City of Olean, and Cattaraugus County courts on all criminal, drug, DWI, and traffic charges.

[i] http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/nycode/CPL/TWO/H/100/100.10

[ii] People v. Weinert, 178 Misc. 2d 675, 683 N.Y.S.2d 690 (2d Dept. 1998)., NY CLS Desk Edition Gilbert’s Criminal Practice Annual 2014 Edition (Matthew Bender), CPL-215.

[iii] People v. Quinn, 100 Misc. 2d 582, 419 N.Y.S.2d 811 (Cohoes City Police Ct. 1979). Bender, CPL-215.

[iv] Steiger v. Wozniak, 72 A.D.2d 944, 422 N.Y.S. 2d 228 (4th Dept. 1979). Bender, CPL-216