The Second Department determined defendant’s denial of guilt to the Department of Probation (DOP) prior to sentencing was not a violation of a condition that he cooperate with the DOP. The sentencing court therefore was not justified in imposing an enhanced sentence:
As a condition of the court’s promised sentence, the defendant agreed (1) to cooperate with the Department of Probation (hereinafter the DOP), (2) to appear on any scheduled court dates, and (3) to remain arrest free. The defendant appeared for his interview with the DOP and answered all of the questions asked, but in doing so, he also denied his guilt. However, he did not express any intention to withdraw his plea of guilty. At sentencing, the defendant contended that he did not deny his guilt to the DOP. Nonetheless, the court found that the defendant violated the “cooperation” condition by lying to the DOP. The court then imposed an enhanced sentence without first giving the defendant an opportunity to ask to withdraw his plea of guilty.
Although the violation of an explicit and objective plea condition that was accepted by the defendant can result in the imposition of an enhanced sentence …, here, the defendant’s denial of his guilt to the DOP was not a violation of the condition that he cooperate with the DOP … . While a court is free to impose a condition requiring a defendant not to deny his or her guilt when interviewed by the DOP, the Supreme Court in the instant matter did not impose such a condition … . Accordingly, it erred in imposing an enhanced sentence based on its conclusion that the defendant violated a condition of the plea of guilty… . People v Pianaforte, 2015 NY Slip Op 01969, 2nd Dept 3-11-15