Difference Between Requirements of Prima Facie and Burden of Proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt in New York
In People v. Kalin, 12 NY3d 225, 230, 906 NE2d 381, 878 NYS2d 653 (2009), the Court explained that the statutory "prima facie case requirement" for an information is less than "the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt required at trial, nor does it rise to the level of legally sufficient evidence that is necessary to survive a motion to dismiss based on the proof presented at trial"
The Court emphasized that this was so in light of the twofold purpose of an information: to "give an accused notice sufficient to prepare a defense and . . . to prevent a defendant from being tried twice for the same offense" (id.).
The Court of Appeals explained that, "Standing alone, a conclusory statement that a substance seized from a Defendant was a particular type of controlled substance does not meet the reasonable cause requirement (see People v. Dumas, 68 NY2d 729, 731, 497 N.E.2d 686, 506 N.Y.S.2d 319). Rather, the factual allegations must establish the basis of the arresting officer's belief that the substance seized was an illegal drug--for example, an officer may allege that the accused made a statement identifying the drug."
However, the Kalin Court also made it clear that, "the prima facie case requirement is not the same as the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt required at trial (People v. Henderson, 92 NY2d at 680), nor does it rise to the level of legally sufficient evidence that is necessary to survive a motion to dismiss based on the proof presented at trial (see Preiser, Practice Commentaries, McKinney's Cons. Laws of NY, Book 11A, CPL 100.40, at 388 2004 ed. )." Kalin at 230.
The Court of Appeals has unambiguously held that a "laboratory report is not necessary" in order to sufficiently plead that a particular substance is an illegal drug. id., at 231.
The Kalin Court found the basis of an officer's identification of marijuana and heroin, even in the absence of any field test or laboratory report, legally sufficient where the officer affirmed that he relied upon his experience and training combined with his direct observations of the "packaging" and "what the substances looked like." id.