The Prosecutor’s Information is a special accusatory instrument which evolves from an earlier accusation. There are a number of processes listed under CPL § 100.10 enabling this modification, akin to a quarterback’s audible to the play called at the line of scrimmage in football. Unlike football however, the power of prosecutorial discretion permits negotiations including plea deals. Since there are a multitude of variables at every stage of a case, it is of supreme importance to request counsel before entering into any agreement or proceeding.
As with other informations, the prosecutor’s information is filed in a local criminal court pursuant to subsection 3 of CPL section 100.10 by one of the following methods:
- At the direction of a grand jury
- At the direction of a local criminal court
- At the district attorney’s own instance
- At the direction of a superior court[i] (not filed in local court)
Grand Juries will be covered in greater detail in later posts. A grand jury generally orders a prosecutor’s information pursuant to CPL § 190.70 when it feels that the evidence presented before it does not rise to the level of a felony, but rather to a lesser-included offense.
Local Criminal Court
CPL § 180.50 and 180.70 provide the court with broad review powers to protect both victims and defendants in regards to the reduction of a felony complaint into a prosecutor’s information.
Because of obligations to the people and to justice, the District Attorney’s Office is given amendatory powers by CPL § 100.50 to alter the charges against an individual. However, once trial begins and the defendant gains double jeopardy protection, the District Attorney loses these powers.
If a grand jury indictment is found to have a defect, under CPL § 210.20(1)(a) the District Attorney may request a superior court to issue an order to the District Attorney to file a prosecutor’s information replacing or amending the existing charges.
While there are a variety of audibles at the people’s disposal, even the DA has to abide by the play clock:
“The failure of an information to allege an element of the offense charged is a nonwaivable jurisdictional defect, and the People have until the statutory period of CPL § 30.30 to correct the defect.” People v. Volkes, 1 Misc. 3d 829, 771 N.Y.S 2d 797 (Richmond Co. 2003).”[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 and drug charges.
[ii] NY CLS Desk Edition Gilbert’s Criminal Practice Annual 2014 Edition (Matthew Bender), CPL-212