Brief Fact Summary. Appellant was convicted of second-degree murder. Appellant argued that his due process rights were violated when the State placed upon him the burden of proving his affirmative defense by a preponderance of the evidence.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. Criminal intent can be established by some action by which a defendant either draws attention to his exposure or by display in a place so public that it must be presumed it was intended that he be seen by others.
Issue. Whether Appellant’s due process rights were violated when the Court placed the burden on him to prove an affirmative defense.
Held. New York State has not violated Appellant’s due process rights and the conviction is sustained.
New York State allows a defendant to show that his actions were caused by a mental infirmity not rising to the level of insanity. This defense does not negate any of the facts of the crime; it is a separate issue that a defendant is required to carry.
The Court’s holding in Mullaney v. Wilbur is not contrary to this holding. Mullaney held that a State must prove every ingredient of an offense beyond a reasonable doubt. If a fact is so important as in Mullaney where it allowed for a conviction of a lesser offense, then the State should have a burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt the existence or nonexistence of that fact.
Mullaney's holding, it is argued, is that the State may not permit the blameworthiness of an act or the severity of punishment authorized for its commission to depend on the presence or absence of an identified fact without assuming the burden of proving the presence or absence of that fact, as the case may be, beyond a reasonable doubt.View Full Point of Law