Attorney Lance Fletcher Reviews New Laws
In analyzing recent legal developments, a formal assessment or examination is often offered but this can relay legal developments in an overly complex way making it difficult to figure out how the law has changed. Here, I've decided to examine and assess in a straight forward way.
The Best New Decision Lance Fletcher Has Reviewed
#1 People v. Dunbar (2014)
In People v. Dunbar, 2014 Slip Op 07293, The Court of Appeals ruled that
Miranda warnings given to suspects during arrest could, under certain circumstances, be undermined by a subsequent
Miranda-like statement read by the Assistant District Attorney. In the
Dunbar case, the Queens District Attorney's Office read a script as part of their pre-arraignment interview program. Arraignment is when you see a judge for the first time following arrest. This program, ostensibly, was designed to allow the accused to tell the District Attorney his or her side of the story.
On its surface, this seems like it might be fair to all sides but when you consider that the District Attorney is probably going to prosecute no matter what, the real purpose of the program is probably to fish around for incriminating statements. In the Dunbar case, the statement ended up being incriminating and something that
Dunbar later wanted suppressed. The post-Miranda statement that the District Attorney read was found to undermine the
Miranda warnings. Generally,
Miranda warnings are when you are told that you have the right to remain silent, the right to speak with an attorney, the right to have that attorney present during questioning, etc. The Court found that this warning was being weakened because suspects were later told by the Queens District Attorney that you should "give me as much information as you can ..." and "you have to tell us now". The Court noted that suspects might have concluded that it was in their best interest to give the District Attorney their side of the story.
Back when I was a prosecutor at the Manhattan District Attorney's Office, I was amazed at how often suspects would agree to speak with me after I read Miranda. Although we didn't read the now prohibited additional warnings that the Queens District Attorney was giving, suspects would often want to talk. At a very minimum, they would generally admit to being at or near where the crime occurred and so they would (without knowing it) admit that the District Attorney has jurisdiction. Why give the District Attorney anything? Are you really going to talk your way out of it? The best advice is also the simplest in this situation. Don't say anything unless you speak with a lawyer first. Your lawyer is someone who can evaluate the likely charges, the facts of your situation, and tell you whether you should say something or keep silent. The Dunbar decision was an important step in protecting the sanctity of Miranda and innocent people from self-incrimination.
People v. Dunbar is the best Court of Appeals Decision I've reviewed this year.
The Law Office of Lance Fletcher is a criminal defense law firm in New York City. Lance Fletcher is a former prosecutor and criminal defense lawyer with an office at 225 Broadway, Suite 2700, New York, NY.