DA: Brooklyn Acid Attack Teen Arrested at High School After Pouring Chemical on Classmate – Do Prosecutors Actually Have a Viable Case

In what appears to be a tragic case, Brooklyn prosecutors have alleged that a young high school girl and member of the ROTC, Zhanna Smsarian, attacked a fellow classmate, Albina Eshimbaeva, with diluted acid. It is alleged that Ms. Smsarian poured the solution over a 15 year old girl’s head out of jealousy stemming from a relationship with a 22 year old man. According to reports, Ms. Smsarian admitted to police that she wanted to burn out her classmate’s eyes. Fortunately, it appears as if she was not successful.

According to Web Crims, the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office has charged Ms. Smsarian with numerous felonies including Attempted Assault in the First Degree (New York Penal Law 110/120.10). She is also charged with numerous misdemeanors including Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Fourth Degree (New York Penal Law 265.01(2)). The felony is punishable by up to fifteen years in prison while the misdemeanors are punishable by up to one year in jail.

Obviously, the theory of the prosecution is that Ms. Smsarian attempted to cause not merely physical injury to her alleged victim, but serious physical injury when she used the acid as a dangerous instrument or vehicle to perpetrate her alleged crime. “Serious physical injury” is a much more significant type of injury and includes disfigurement or loss of the use of an organ. Fortunately, if the charges are accurate online, then Ms. Smsarian was not successful in causing serious physical injury. If she had actually disfigured her classmate with the acid or blinded her, then prosecutors would have charged her with the completed crime of Assault in the First Degree (New York Penal Law 120.10).

What happens next or the type of defense that is mounted will certainly play out over the next few weeks and months. One thing that will be interesting, however, is whether or not the complainant suffered any physical injury at all. According to the NY Post, the complainant’s mother claimed that her daughter, who is already back in school, suffered “redness and irritation,” but did not mention any type of pain. Mere “irritation” would not rise to the level of physical injury. If this is reflected in the evidence, then the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office may have a difficult time establishing the critical element of physical injury necessary for the felony offenses and Assault related misdemeanor. Taken a step further, if the acid was so diluted that it could not cause “physical injury” or “serious physical injury,” but only “irritation,” then the crime of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Fourth Degree would be compromised as well. It is possible that the only potential charge that could remain would be Harassment pursuant to New York Penal Law 240.26. This offense is only a violation and not a crime.

In depth information regarding the New York Assault crimes and Weapon Possession crimes in New York can be found through the respective links. Further information including statutes and case law about these and other crimes (review the related sections) can be located on the New York Criminal Lawyer Blog.

Saland Law PC is a New York criminal defense firm founded by two former Manhattan prosecutors. The New York criminal lawyers at Saland Law PC represent the accused throughout the New York City area from Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx to many of the surrounding counties.

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