Criminal Usury Appeal in New York

In People v. Iannone, 45 NY2d 589, 384 NE2d 656, 412 NYS2d 110 (1978), defendant challenged his indictment for criminal usury, arguing that the People failed to set forth facts that constituted a crime. The criminal usury count in the indictment tracked the language of the criminal usury statute, including all the material elements of the crime. Rejecting defendant's challenge, the Court of Appeals recounted the history and development of indictment practices in New York, concluding that "careful consideration of the realities of criminal practice in New York leads ineluctably to the conclusion that the basic essential function of an indictment qua document is simply to notify the defendant of the crime of which he stands indicted" (id. at 598). The Court went on to hold that "as a general rule, the indictment need only allege where, when and what the defendant did" (id.). Interestingly, the Iannone Court observed that, although "the prosecutor might have been wiser had he included more detail, what was presented suffices to charge a statutory crime such as criminal usury. When indicting for statutory crimes, it is usually sufficient to charge the language of the statute unless that language is too broad" (id. at 599).