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Issues In NY Criminal Law--Vol. 4, #12©

Issue: Partial Verdicts

Juries often consider multiples charges in their deliberations. In some situations, the jury will return a verdict on less than all counts. One example: intentional and depraved indifference murder charges. A verdict on one precludes a verdict on the other; they must be submitted in the alternative. People v Gallagher, 69 NY2d 525, 516 NYS2d 174 (1987).

Another situation: lesser included offenses. If the jury convicts on a top count, they will not reach a verdict on the lesser charges. CPL 300.40(3)(b). See "What is an inclusory concurrent count?" on this web site.

A third: a partial verdict. The jury may have reached a verdict on some counts but deadlock on others. In this situation, the trial judge may allow the jury to report the partial verdict. CPL 310.70; Handling a Criminal Case in New York, § 19:12.

Normally a jury must reach a verdict on the top count before it considers a lesser included offense. People v Boettcher, 69 NY2d 174, 513 NYS2d 83 (1987); Handling §§ 16:36, 16:49. If the jury somehow reports a verdict on the lower charge, double jeopardy bars re-prosecution of the higher, unresolved charge. People v Fuller, 96 NY2d 881, 730 NYS2d 773 (2001); People v Johnson, __ AD2d __, 744 NYS2d 402 (1st Dept 2002). A trial court has broad discretion in whether to allow a partial verdict. People v Wincelowicz, 258 AD2d 602, 685 NYS2d 741 (2d Dept 1999). The court may accept a partial verdict as to one codefendant but not another. People v Vasilaropoulos, 282 AD2d 766, 725 NYS2d 658 (2d Dept 2001).

"And summer's lease hath all too short a date." Sonnet 16

Cap plea -- A guilty plea entered upon judge's promise not to impose a sentence greater than specified term or range of imprisonment. Also, "sentence cap." Cf. Farrar plea. Handling § 17:13.


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