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People v. Foster

Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Second Department, New York.
Aug 23, 2017
153 A.D.3d 853 (N.Y. App. Div. 2017)

Opinion

2015-00486. Ind. No. 1094/13.

08-23-2017

The PEOPLE, etc., respondent, v. John FOSTER, appellant.

Laurette D. Mulry, Riverhead, NY (Felice B. Milani of counsel), for appellant. Thomas J. Spota, District Attorney, Riverhead, NY (Rosalind C. Gray of counsel), for respondent.


Laurette D. Mulry, Riverhead, NY (Felice B. Milani of counsel), for appellant.

Thomas J. Spota, District Attorney, Riverhead, NY (Rosalind C. Gray of counsel), for respondent.

WILLIAM F. MASTRO, J.P., JOHN M. LEVENTHAL, ROBERT J. MILLER, and VALERIE BRATHWAITE NELSON, JJ.

Appeal by the defendant from a judgment of the County Court, Suffolk County (Collins, J.), rendered December 19, 2014, convicting him of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree and aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle in the third degree, upon a jury verdict, and imposing sentence. The appeal brings up for review the denial, after a hearing (Braslow, J.), of those branches of the defendant's omnibus motion which were to suppress physical evidence and his statement to law enforcement officials.

ORDERED that the judgment is affirmed.

The hearing court properly denied that branch of the defendant's omnibus motion which was to suppress physical evidence recovered from his person. " ‘[A]s a general matter, the decision to stop an automobile is reasonable where the police have probable cause to believe that a traffic violation has occurred,’ even if the underlying reason for the stop was to investigate another matter unrelated to the traffic violation" ( People v. Sluszka, 15 A.D.3d 421, 423, 790 N.Y.S.2d 55, quoting People v. Robinson, 97 N.Y.2d 341, 348–349, 741 N.Y.S.2d 147, 767 N.E.2d 638 ; see People v. Davis, 103 A.D.3d 810, 811, 962 N.Y.S.2d 174 ). "The credibility determinations of a hearing court are entitled to great deference on appeal, and will not be disturbed unless clearly unsupported by the record" ( People v. Martinez, 58 A.D.3d 870, 870–871, 873 N.Y.S.2d 128 ). The record supports the hearing court's determination to credit a police officer's testimony that he observed the defendant make a right turn without signaling and while he was not wearing a seatbelt, which justified the stop of the defendant (see People v. Golden, 149 A.D.3d 777, 52 N.Y.S.3d 111 ; People v. Souris, 46 A.D.3d 711, 846 N.Y.S.2d 587 ). The officer had the right to request that the defendant produce his driver license (see People v. Graham, 54 A.D.3d 1056, 1058, 865 N.Y.S.2d 259 ; People v. Leiva, 33 A.D.3d 1021, 1022, 823 N.Y.S.2d 494 ; People v. Irizarry, 282 A.D.2d 483, 483, 730 N.Y.S.2d 111 ). Upon learning that the defendant had a suspended driver license, the officer had probable cause to arrest the defendant (see Vehicle and Traffic Law § 511[1][a] ; People v. Mercado, 120 A.D.3d 441, 442, 992 N.Y.S.2d 12, affd. 25 N.Y.3d 936, 5 N.Y.S.3d 741, 28 N.E.3d 1181 ; People v. Davis, 32 A.D.3d 445, 445, 821 N.Y.S.2d 217 ; People v. Mitchell, 303 A.D.2d 422, 423, 755 N.Y.S.2d 867 ; People v. Irizarry, 282 A.D.2d at 483, 730 N.Y.S.2d 111 ; People v. Tavarez, 277 A.D.2d 260, 715 N.Y.S.2d 726 ). Thus, suppression of the cocaine and other physical evidence recovered from the defendant's person was not warranted, as it was recovered during a search incident to a lawful arrest (see People v. Troiano, 35 N.Y.2d 476, 363 N.Y.S.2d 943, 323 N.E.2d 183 ; People v. Mercado, 120 A.D.3d at 442, 992 N.Y.S.2d 12 ; People v. Hurdle, 93 A.D.3d 419, 938 N.Y.S.2d 889 ; People v. Lewis, 89 A.D.3d 1485, 932 N.Y.S.2d 663 ; People v. Tavarez, 277 A.D.2d 260, 715 N.Y.S.2d 726 ). Additionally, since the search of the defendant and his arrest were lawful, his subsequent statements to the police cannot be deemed the fruit of the poisonous tree subject to the exclusionary rule (see People v. John, 119 A.D.3d 709, 710, 988 N.Y.S.2d 885 ).

Further, contrary to the defendant's contention, his statement to law enforcement officials that he had approximately 20 grams of cocaine on him, made before Miranda warnings were given (see Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694 ), was spontaneous and not triggered by any police questioning or other conduct which reasonably could have been expected to elicit a declaration from him (see People v. Wallace, 128 A.D.3d 866, 7 N.Y.S.3d 610 ; People v. Powell, 125 A.D.3d 1010, 1011, 5 N.Y.S.3d 445, affd. 27 N.Y.3d 523, 35 N.Y.S.3d 675, 55 N.E.3d 435 ; People v. Barley, 82 A.D.3d 996, 919 N.Y.S.2d 86 ; People v. Castro, 73 A.D.3d 800, 801, 899 N.Y.S.2d 653 ). Accordingly, the hearing court properly denied that branch of the defendant's omnibus motion which was to suppress this statement.

The defendant's contention that the evidence was legally insufficient to establish his guilt of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree because the People failed to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that he knowingly possessed a substance containing cocaine that had an aggregate weight of one-half ounce or more is not preserved for appellate review (see CPL 470.05[2] ; Penal Law § 220.16[12] ; People v. Gray, 86 N.Y.2d 10, 629 N.Y.S.2d 173, 652 N.E.2d 919 ; People v. Estrella, 303 A.D.2d 689, 756 N.Y.S.2d 655 ). In any event, this contention, and the defendant's contention that his conviction was against the weight of the evidence on this ground, are without merit. The People were not required to prove that the defendant had knowledge of the aggregate weight of the controlled substance that he possessed (see Penal Law § 15.20[4] ; People v. Ballard, 51 A.D.3d 1034, 1035, 858 N.Y.S.2d 769 ; People v. Flemings, 6 A.D.3d 626, 627, 774 N.Y.S.2d 804 ; People v. Estrella, 303 A.D.2d 689, 756 N.Y.S.2d 655 ; People v. Wilson, 245 A.D.2d 402, 667 N.Y.S.2d 377 ). For this reason, his trial attorney was not ineffective for failing to preserve the defendant's challenge to the legal sufficiency of the evidence establishing that he knew the aggregate weight of the cocaine (see People v. High, 119 A.D.3d 959, 960, 989 N.Y.S.2d 873 ). There can be no deprivation of effective assistance of counsel arising from the failure to make a motion or argument that had little or no chance of success (see People v. Ennis, 11 N.Y.3d 403, 415, 872 N.Y.S.2d 364, 900 N.E.2d 915 ; People v. Witherspoon, 147 A.D.3d 985, 47 N.Y.S.3d 391 ).


Summaries of

People v. Foster

Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Second Department, New York.
Aug 23, 2017
153 A.D.3d 853 (N.Y. App. Div. 2017)
Case details for

People v. Foster

Case Details

Full title:The PEOPLE, etc., respondent, v. John FOSTER, appellant.

Court:Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Second Department, New York.

Date published: Aug 23, 2017

Citations

153 A.D.3d 853 (N.Y. App. Div. 2017)
153 A.D.3d 853

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