People v. James

Criminal Practice

New York Law Journal


Justice Richard Weinberg

James was previously charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, among other things, and pleaded guilty to a reduced charge with a promise of five years probation and youthful offender status. The case was adjourned for sentencing, but James failed to appear, and a bench warrant was ordered. He now moved for dismissal of the case under Criminal Procedure Law §380.30 claiming the court lost jurisdiction as a result of the nearly 22 year delay in sentencing him. James claimed that had his warrant been timely entered, he would have been returned on it due to his various contacts with the New Jersey criminal justice system. The court stated while prosecutors had a duty to exercise due diligence in effecting the return of an incarcerated defendant, such duty was premised on the fact such incarcerated defendant was incapable of appearing in court by his own efforts. As James was at liberty the majority of the time between 1991 and 2010, he could have ended the delay in sentencing by surrendering himself. Yet, as the delay was caused almost entirely by James' continuing failure to appear for sentencing, the court was not deprived of jurisdiction and dismissal under §380.30 was denied.

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