Decision Whether to Submit a Lesser Included Offense to the Jury Is for the Attorney, Not the Defendant, to Make—Failure to Grant the Attorney’s Request (Because the Defendant Objected) Reversible Error
The Second Department reversed defendant’s conviction because Supreme Court followed the defendant’s, rather than the defendant’s attorney’s, wishes re: the submission of a lesser included offense (here petit larceny) to the jury. The defendant did not want the lesser included offense submitted to the jury, but his attorney did. The Second Department explained that the decision whether to request a jury charge on a lesser included offense is a strategic one made by the attorney, not the defendant:
…[T]he decision whether to seek a jury charge on a lesser-included offense is a matter of strategy and tactics which is “for the attorney, not the accused to make” … .
Contrary to the People’s contention, the failure to submit the lesser-included offense to the jury constituted reversible error under the circumstances of this case. To be entitled to a charge on a lesser-included offense, a defendant must establish that (1) it was impossible to commit the greater crime without concomitantly committing the lesser offense by the same conduct, and (2) there is a reasonable view of the evidence to support a finding that the defendant committed the lesser offense but not the greater (see CPL 300.50…). The crime of petit larceny is a lesser-included offense of robbery in the first degree … . People v Lowery, 2015 NY Slip Op 03385, 2nd Dept 4-22-15