Brutal Assault in Bronx Elevator
A 67-year-old man is in the hospital after a man attacked him without warning in an elevator. The man stopped to wipe his fingerprints off the door before he fled.
The incident occurred in a high-rise across from the Bronx Zoo near the corner of East 187th Street and Southern Boulevard. After a young man in a hoodie pressed the elevator button for the victim, the hooded man blocked his path and sucker-punched him. The victim collapsed and the hooded man continued striking the victim. Just before the elevator doors closed, the hooded man ran into the hall. He got into a dark- colored minivan and sped away.
Investigators have essentially no leads and have asked the public for information.
Defenses in Assault Cases
From a moral standpoint, attacks like the ones described above are usually indefensible. But from a legal standpoint, things are different. Many times, the state does not have enough admissible evidence to convict the defendant beyond a reasonable doubt. There may be a legal defense as well. Frequently, people who behave erratically may have been using alcohol or drugs. That’s an important fact, because aggravated assault is a specific intent crime. The defendant must intend both the conduct (assaulting the alleged victim) and the result (seriously injuring the alleged victim). Intoxicated individuals may not be able formulate the necessary intent.
In these situations, the defendant may be guilty of a lesser offense, such as simple assault. But this offense is a misdemeanor. So a criminal defense attorney might be able to bargain a plea to misdemeanor assault, as opposed to felony aggravated assault.
These sentence reductions are important. New York has essentially no record sealing or expunging proceeding, and a misdemeanor does not have the same collateral consequences as a felony. That’s especially true with regard to the collateral consequences for immigration proceedings.
Other assault defenses include self-defense and defense of a third person. Defendants are not guilty if they used force necessary to prevent harm to themselves or others. The result does not matter. The amount of force is all that counts.
Evidence in Assault Cases
Stranger assault cases are more difficult to establish in court. Generally, the victim only got a glimpse of his/her assailant. Frequently, although these factors do not appear to be at issue here, the alleged victim’s testimony may be suspect. Frequently, the room was dark and/or the alleged victim had been drinking at the time, impacting the ability to have perfect faculties. Over time, memories fade and injuries usually heal.
Finally, not all evidence is admissible. Officers must give suspects their Miranda rights before custodial interrogation begins. If officers ask any questions, even if they seem unrelated to the alleged offense, this phase has probably begun. The failure to Mirandize means that any evidence gathered subsequently may be inadmissible.