Statements or Confessions May Have Severe Consequences
by NYC Criminal Defense Attorneys Lance Fletcher and John Brosnan
You've just been arrested in New York. In a relaxed tone of voice, the arresting officer asks your name and address which you give to him. Then, your arresting officer asks, "why did you steal so much money? You seem like you already have plenty" to which you reply, "I'm going to give it all back, I'm really sorry." You just admitted stealing, greatly strengthening the prosecutor's case against you.
Confessions is one of the most complicated areas of New York criminal law. There are few things more damning to your case than your own words being used against you. Juries tend to believe your admissions over any other piece of evidence. Your criminal defense attorney can use several methods to get your statements suppressed. One of the most well-known, and misunderstood, is the reading of the Miranda rights. Issues like
Miranda rights will be decided during a pre-trial hearing to determine what, if any, statements can be used at trial.
Everyone knows what the Miranda rights are. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can be used against you in court. You have the right to an attorney. If you can’t afford one, you will be appointed an attorney. These rights were laid out in the landmark case of
Miranda v. Arizona. While most people know what the rights entail, very few people actually understand when the
Miranda rights are required and the remedy that occurs if the police failed to read you your rights. The
Miranda rights are only required when you are being interrogated while in custody. Therefore it is very common for an arrested person to never be read their rights since the police are not questioning them. Its also not required if the police are talking to you, but you are not in their custody. Custody means either being placed under arrest or in a situation where a person innocent of the crime would not feel free to leave.
Stansbury v. California 114 S. Ct. 1526 (1994). However, a roadside questioning during a traffic stop or questioning during a
Terry stop will not be considered in custody. There are also numerous exceptions to the
Miranda rights, such as voluntary statements from you or statements you make to a confidential informant or undercover cop.
Perkins 496 U.S. 292 (1990). A good New York criminal defense attorney will argue that you were in custody for the purpose of Miranda right away, entitling you to your
Miranda rights to get a damaging statement suppressed.
Hollywood would have you believe that the failure of the police to read you your Miranda Rights might result in your case being easily dismissed. This is a Hollywood myth. In reality, the remedy to a violation of the
Miranda rights is to have your attorney file a motion to suppress any illegally obtained statements. Whether or not statements were obtained illegally will be decided by a judge during a
Huntley hearing prior to trial. In this hearing, the prosecutor will call the police and ask him to testify about the circumstances surrounding the statements. Your criminal defense attorney will then be given the opportunity to cross examine the officer and present any evidence to support suppression. Any statements that are found to be in violation of
Miranda, coerced, or involuntary may be suppressed. Be aware though that it is hard to show statements are coerced as police are permitted to lie when interrogating you. Any statements you made could also be suppressed if the prosecutor fails to give you notice of the statements you made within 15 days of your arraignment. CPL 170.30. Even if your statements are suppressed, they could still be used to impeach your credibility if you decided to testify at your trial.
Dealing with a damaging statement given to the police during your arrest can be an enormous hurdle to overcome. By acting quickly, your New York attorney can file a motion to suppress for denial of your Miranda Rights or on other grounds such as lack of probable cause to arrest.