People v. Cortlandt Medical Bldg. Associates

CourtNew York Town Court
Writing for the CourtGERALD M. KLEIN
Citation153 Misc.2d 692,582 N.Y.S.2d 640
Decision Date17 March 1992
PartiesThe PEOPLE of the State of New York v. CORTLANDT MEDICAL BUILDING ASSOCIATES, Defendant.

Page 640

582 N.Y.S.2d 640
153 Misc.2d 692
The PEOPLE of the State of New York
Town Court of Cortlandt, Westchester County.
March 17, 1992.

Gary Haber, White Plains, for defendant.

Thomas Wood, Town Atty., for People.


Defendant is accused of violating section 6-8A(2) of the Town of Cortlandt Code requiring police and fire departments to report any false alarm to the Town Director of Code Enforcement within twenty four hours of the incident. The Director is required to keep an annual record of such false alarms.

Subdivision 1 of 6-8A requires mandatory fines as follows:

No. of False Alarms Residential Commercial
                1 Warning $ 50.00
                2 $30.00 $100.00
                Each after 2 $30.00 $100.00

[153 Misc.2d 693] Subdivision 2 states that failure by the owner or lessee to pay the fine within thirty days of demand shall be a violation of section 6-12 of the code which in turn provides for additional penalties of a fine not to exceed $250.00 or fifteen days imprisonment or both.

Defendant, a commercial user, is accused of having false alarms on four separate occasions during December, 1990 and January, 1991 requiring $300.00 in mandatory fines which it refuses to pay.

Defendant moved to dismiss the charges on the grounds that the code is unconstitutional as violative of due process (Article 1 Section 6 of the New York State Constitution and 14th amendment of the U.S. Constitution) and equal protection clause (Article 1 Section 11, New York State Constitution and the 14th Amendment U.S. Constitution.)

More specifically defendant argues that there is no provision in the code for defendant

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to have a hearing prior to the initial determination of whether a reported alarm is false or not. The police or fire officials make their own ex parte determination. Defendant found itself before this Court only because it refused to pay the mandatory fine.

In addition, defendant contends that subsection 1 of section 6-8A penalizes residential and commercial violations differently without providing any rational basis for such differentiation.

This Court finds that an alarm permit holder is deprived of the right to due process because the Town can take away his property without affording him a hearing at which to contest the underlying issue of the falsity of the alarms. "Due process rights do require such a hearing before a person may be divested of a life, liberty or property...

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