Defendant in New York Robbery Case Loses on Appeal of Motion to Suppress

In a  robbery case before a New York appeals court earlier this month, the defendant asked the court to reconsider an unfavorable decision he received at the trial court level. Originally, the defendant was criminally charged with robbery and criminal possession of a weapon, and he asked the lower court to suppress incriminating evidence that an officer found on his person while conducting a search. The court denied the defendant’s motion to suppress, and on appeal, the higher court agreed. The defendant’s argument was rejected, and the original judgment was affirmed.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, police officers were called to a residential building one night right as a robbery was taking place. The officers arrested several people at the scene of the crime, then they walked out of the building to find the defendant emerging from a driveway nearby. The driveway was right behind the building where the offense occurred, and the officers approached the defendant to see if he knew anything about the crime.

At that point, the officers tried to ask the defendant several questions, but he immediately began running away. The officers chased him, caught up to him, and arrested him. They quickly found a cell phone and cash on the defendant’s person; the cell phone had several incriminating text messages that ended up playing a part in the State’s case against the defendant.

The defendant was charged with robbery in the first degree, robbery in the second degree, and criminal possession of a weapon in relation to the robbery. His case then went to trial, and he was found guilty as charged.

The Decision

On appeal, the defendant argued that the lower court should have suppressed the text messages and money that the officer found on him when arresting him outside of the building. According to the defendant, the officers did not have a justifiable reason to chase him down nor a legal basis to arrest him—at that point, no one had any evidence connecting him to the crime.

The court considered this argument but eventually rejected it. It was enough, said the court, for the officers to see the defendant walking near the building in question. When they approached him to ask questions, the defendant ran, giving them an additional reason to think he might have been involved in the crime. Given those facts, it was reasonable for the officers to arrest and search the defendant.

Thus, the incriminating evidence was admissible at trial, and the defendant’s appeal was denied.

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