New York Criminal Procedure Law 180.50 - Interpretation

In People v. Dion, 93 NY2d 893, 711 N.E.2d 963, 689 N.Y.S.2d 685 (1999), the initial felony complaint contained both a felony and a misdemeanor. Approximately 45 days after the commencement of the action, the People moved to dismiss the felony charge and stated "ready" on the misdemeanor charge, which was established by a supporting deposition. Dion, 93 NY2d at 894; Dion, defendant appellant's brief at p. 4. The court and the defendant consented to the reduction, but the court, apparently inadvertently and unbeknownst to the parties, did not properly complete the reduction as required by C.P.L. 180.50. The case continued, and the proper 180.50 reduction was finally accomplished 7 months after the commencement of the action. Mr. Dion argued that, as the case proceeded for more than 6 months- the 30.30 time limit for a felony- without the People validly stating ready on the felony (which they would not have been able to do without an indictment) the case should be dismissed pursuant to C.P.L. 30.30. The court denied the motion, and the Court of Appeals upheld the denial, "in view of defendant's numerous pretrial motions and five changes of attorney." Dion at 894. In Dion, the fact that the defendant consented to or caused some of the adjournments, bringing the People's chargeable time to within their 30.30 limit, was the reason the defendant did not prevail. Dion does not stand for any kind of "partial conversion," but only re-asserts the principle that when a defendant consents to an adjournment, that time is not chargeable to the People, even where there is not a valid accusatory instrument. The People had declared readiness at the time they moved to reduce felony counts to misdemeanors, but the purported reduction was not then accomplished because the trial court had not complied with the requirements of CPL 180.50 and had not made the necessary notations on the complaint. The felony charges were not properly reduced until five months thereafter. Notwithstanding the People's failed initial attempt at reduction, the Court of Appeals held that on the date they attempted to reduce and simultaneously announced ready, "their readiness included the misdemeanor charge of petty larceny. That unreduced charge was unaffected by the procedural mechanics of CPL 180.50." (People v. Dion, 93 NY2d at 894.)