The Court of Appeals, in a full-fledged opinion by Judge Garcia, determined that the defendant may not appeal from an “illegally lenient” sentence because the sentence did not adversely affect the defendant. The defendant was attempting to have prior sentences declared illegal to avoid a subsequent “persistent felony offender” classification. Defendant had used aliases and had been given “illegally lenient” sentences because the sentencing court was unaware of the prior conviction(s):
The Appellate Division [held] that it could not consider the merits of defendant’s appeal because denial of the motion — leaving in place defendant’s illegally lenient sentence — had not “adversely affected” defendant within the meaning of CPL 470.15 … . When a defendant moves to vacate a sentence on the ground that it is illegally lenient, denial of such a motion is not reviewable because any purported “error or defect in the criminal court proceedings” has not “adversely affected” the defendant (CPL 470.15 ). Accordingly, we affirm.
Defendant’s criminal history consists of at least four felony convictions over a fifteen-year period. During this time, it appears that he repeatedly attempted to conceal that history, primarily through the use of aliases. To a remarkable degree, though a recidivist, he avoided enhanced punishment required by statute. Instead, he obtained sentences that were “illegally lenient” given his actual status as a predicate felon. However, in 1997, the court, based on the evidence of defendant’s prior convictions, sentenced him to a term of twenty-three years to life in prison as a persistent violent felony offender (see Penal Law § 70.08). Since then, by direct appeal and collateral attack, defendant has tried to overturn the illegally lenient sentences that were previously imposed based on his incomplete criminal history, with the ultimate goal of invalidating his 1997 persistent violent felony offender sentence. People v Francis, 2020 NY Slip Op 00996, CtApp 2-13-20