April 26, 2019, The first conviction prosecuted under the NY Safe-Act has been overturned by the NYS Supreme Court. In a unanimous decision, the State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, ruled that the New York State Attorney General’s Office, held by Eric Schneiderman at the time of initial legal action, failed to demonstrate legal authority to prosecute the SAFE Act violations against the defendant, Benjamin Wassell.
The Court's statement
“Because the People failed to establish that the Attorney General had authority to secure the indictment and prosecute the case, we conclude that the judgment must be reversed and the indictment dismissed.”
Wassell was convicted in Chautauqua County Court in May 2014 of third-degree criminal possession of a weapon and third-degree criminal sale of a weapon.
The court decision is not a determination of the constitutionality of the NY Safe-Act. It is a statement on the prosecutorial authority of the state Attorney General’s office, which prosecuted Wassell’s case through both the trial and sentencing. Wassell’s contentions with the Safe-Act were not taken up by the Appellate Division after its determination about the Attorney General’s lack of jurisdiction in the case.
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