The Third Department, resolving a question of first impression, determined that a Superior Court Information (SCI) is jurisdictionally defective if it charges a joinable offense which is greater in degree than the offense for which the defendant was held for the action of the grand jury. The jurisdictional question survives the guilty plea, the failure to preserve and the waiver of appeal:
… [T]he constitutional waiver provision makes no reference to joinable offenses, providing only that prosecution by an SCI is limited to an offense or offenses for which a person is ‘held for the action of a grand jury upon a charge for such an offense’ (NY Const, art I, § 6 … ). A literal interpretation of the phrase ‘any offense or offenses properly joinable therewith’ in CPL 195.20 would permit the circumvention of this constitutional imperative by the simple expedient of permitting the inclusion of joinable offenses in a higher degree or grade that were never charged in a felony complaint. Such a statutory interpretation is inconsistent with and undermines the protections provided in NY Constitution, article I, § 6. It is well settled ‘that the Legislature in performing its law-making function may not enlarge upon or abridge the Constitution’ … , and that “courts must avoid, if possible, interpreting a presumptively valid statute in a way that will needlessly render it unconstitutional” … .
Applying these principles, we conclude that a joinable offense may not be included in a waiver of indictment and SCI unless that offense, or a lesser included offense, was charged in a felony complaint and the defendant was therefore held for the action of a grand jury upon that charge … . People v Coss, 2019 NY Slip Op 07445, Third Dept 10-17-19