CPL § 100.15 requires that the factual part of every accusatory instrument must contain a statement alleging facts in support of the charges in the accusatory part. To fulfill this requirement, most accusations are accompanied with a supporting deposition. CPL § 100.20 defines the supporting deposition as:

“a written instrument accompanying or filed in connection with an information, a simplified information, a misdemeanor complaint or a felony complaint, subscribed and verified by a person other than the complainant of such accusatory instrument, and containing factual allegations of an evidentiary character, based either upon personal knowledge or upon information and belief, which supplement of the accusatory instrument and support or tend to support the charge or charges contained therein.”

[i]

In short, it is a written statement of facts, known personally or upon information and belief. It is sworn as a security measure against false statements, and to prevent unjust prosecution or delay. This measure gives the supporting deposition its credibility.

The facts described in the deposition will be scrutinized by every individual handling a case. The law is designed to increasingly scrutinize an allegation as a case progresses, however, while laws are only interpreted by judges or lawyers, depositions are interpreted by judges, lawyers, investigators, police, and juries. To further complicate matters, depositions not given by legal professionals may be less clear in meaning than statements written by an individual with experience. It is this scrutiny which makes the supporting deposition so important. It is the first domino. As a Defense Attorney, this is the primary concern I have regarding client statements and strongly advise consultation before offering even a yes or no.

Due to the sufficiency requirements of CPL § 100.40, there is a greater likelihood of an incomplete or inconsistent accusation when a non-professional provides a statement of the facts. Professionals know what elements need to be proven, which affects their observations, investigations, conversations, and written statements.

This legal (and moral) technicality is well-demonstrated in People v. Rosano. The allegation of Trespass in the Third Degree was found facially insufficient because the cafeteria in which the defendant was alleged to have trespassed was not alleged to be exclusive.[ii]

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, as well as most of Cattaraugus County on DWI, traffic and all criminal, drug, and trespass charges.

[i] http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/nycode/CPL/TWO/H/100/100.20

[ii] People v. Rosano, 25 Misc. 3d 129A (App. Term 2d Dept 2009), from NY CLS Desk Edition Gilbert’s Criminal Practice Annual 2014 Edition (Matthew Bender) CPL-212.