Sahn Ward Attorney Serving as an Assistant District Attorney in a Pro Bono Capacity Successfully Argues Before the Appellate Division, Second Department, a Case Determining a Defendant’s Designation as a Level Two Sex Offender

Thursday, November 10, 2016

UNIONDALE, NY — Sahn Ward Coschignano, PLLC has announced that Ralph Branciforte, an Associate with the Firm, served in a pro bono capacity as an Assistant District Attorney for the Nassau County District Attorney and assisted in drafting an appellate brief for the appeal in People of State of New York v. Widom before the Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department.  In Widom, the Appellate Division affirmed the order of the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Nassau County, which had upwardly departed and designated the defendant a level two sex offender under New York State’s Sex Offender Registration Act (“SORA”), despite a presumptive level one sex offender designation based upon SORA’s guidelines.

Aggravating factors may support an upward departure from an offender’s presumptive risk level if it tends to establish a higher likelihood of reoffense or danger to the community than the presumptive risk level.  Thus, a court may, in its discretion, choose to upwardly depart.  In Widom, Mr. Branciforte assisted in successfully arguing that the defendant was correctly designated a level two sex offender due to certain aggravating factors in the case, including the nature of the child pornography that the defendant downloaded from the Internet and that the defendant engaged in sexually explicit communications with a 15-year-old child, set up a time and place to meet with the child and traveled to the location at the prescribed time.  The Appellate Division held that these circumstances constituted aggravating factors that were not adequately taken into account when designating the defendant a presumptive level one sex offender.

The Nassau County District Attorney’s Office has implemented a program that bestows on private-practice attorneys the honor to serve as an Assistant District Attorney in a Pro Bono capacity.  The program focuses on appellate cases where the private-practice pro bono attorney works with an Assistant District Attorney in the Appeals Bureau to assist in writing a brief and argue the case before the Appellate Division.  This case was the third matter that Mr. Branciforte handled in a pro bono capacity for the District Attorney’s Office.

Serving in a pro bono capacity for the District Attorney’s Office afforded Mr. Branciforte an opportunity to serve the citizens of New York, participate in the justice system, and argue unique legal issues before the Appellate Division, Second Department.

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Sahn Ward Coschignano, PLLC is committed to providing its clients with the highest quality representation, counsel and advice. Practice areas include zoning and land use planning; real estate law and transactions; litigation and appeals; municipal law and legislative practice; cellular and telecommunications law; environmental, corporate, labor and employment law; tax certiorari and condemnation; matrimonial practice; and estate planning. The firm strives to assist its clients in a wide array of issues, serving them with skill and experience, resourcefulness and responsibility. For more information, call (516) 228-1300 or visit