A New York State Judge dismissed a felony conviction against a young man who had turned his life around after struggling with addiction and mental health issues.
New York County AJSC Thomas Farber in The People v. Brian M. 1597/13 ruled that the defendant has transformed his life and became a productive member of society. In May of 2013, the defendant, then 19 years old, "was a confused young man with a drug addiction and serious mental health issues." He was arrested for selling crack cocaine to an undercover police officer.
The defendant plead guilty to possession of a controlled substance in the third degree prior to entering a rehab program. The defendant's counsel requested that the people agree to repleader type of disposition upon the successful completion of rehab so the defendant would not be saddled with a felony conviction for the rest of his life. The people rejected this type of plea, against the wishes of Judge Farber, who reminded the People that he could always consider a motion to dismiss in the interest of justice. After defendants completion of the rehab program, he brought said motion. The People opposed.
Judge Farber went on to detail how the defendant had thereafter turned his life around, re-established a relationship with his family, the defendant was enrolled in college, he was employed full time, and had passed every drug screening for a period of over one year, and was receiving ongoing treatment for his mental health issues. Judge Farber stated "I cannot see any point in rewarding defendant for this with a felony conviction."
Farber pointed out that there has been a recent change from a punishment model in drug cases to a treatment model. Farber also stated that mandatory prison sentences for first time "B" Felony offenders has been abolished.
Lastly, Farber reasoned that "Dismissing this case would have minimal impact on public confidence in the criminal justice system and the safety or welfare of the community. While no one is able to predict what defendant will do in the future, he is gainfully employed and attending college. He has dealt with his mental health and addiction issues. He has family support. There is every indication that he can be and will be a productive citizen. I am certain that the "public" would be gratified to know that the system is flexible enough to deal with young offenders from inner city neighborhoods who have significant mental health and addiction issues, but have the ability and genuine desire to become productive members of society."
Victor Castelli of the Legal Aid Society represented the defendant