In a recent opinion from a New York court, a defendant’s motion to suppress was denied. The defendant was charged with criminal possession of a weapon after police arrived at his building to investigate a domestic disturbance. He argued on appeal that the officers who found the gun violated his privacy rights by entering into his private residential building. The court disagreed, denying his appeal and sustaining his verdict.
Facts of the Case
According to the opinion, police arrived at the defendant’s house after having received a call from the defendant’s father-in-law reporting that he was choking his wife. Officers arrived at the scene and, because they were unable to make contact with the defendant, positioned themselves outside of the apartment building in a nearby alley. Meanwhile, the defendant opened his second-floor window and threw a black backpack into the window of a neighboring building. He came out onto his porch to speak with the officers and stated several times that he had a gun.
Suddenly, the defendant raised what appeared to be a gray-colored object toward the officers, and officers shot him two times. While he was transported to the hospital, the officers searched inside the black backpack and recovered a rifle and ammunition.
When a detective questioned the defendant at the hospital a few days later, the defendant admitted he was on parole and that he had thrown a black backpack out the window. According to the defendant, the backpack contained marijuana and nothing else.
The defendant was charged with several crimes, including criminal possession of a weapon, reckless endangerment, and criminal obstruction of breathing. On appeal, the defendant argued that the gun found in the backpack should be suppressed; it was incriminating evidence and the officers had no right to recover the gun in the first place. The defendant said that because he threw the backpack into another residential building (and because he lived in both the building where he was standing and the building to which he threw the backpack), the officers should not have been able to enter the premises without permission. The defendant, he said, had an expectation of privacy that the officers violated by entering on their own accord.
The court disagreed. The evidence demonstrated, said the court, that the defendant did not actually live in either of the two residential buildings. What’s more, the officer who entered the building testified that the doors to the building were open and that it did not appear as if anyone was living there. Because there was no indication that this was a private residence, the officer reasonably made the decision to enter the building and recover the backpack. With regards to the backpack itself, the court determined that the defendant relinquished his rights to the backpack when he threw it out the window and that he could not expect the contents of the bag to remain private. With this in mind, the court denied the defendant’s appeal, and he was sentenced to ten years in prison.
Are You Facing Criminal Charges in New York for Possessing a Weapon?
If you or a loved one have been charged with possession of a weapon in New York, there may be defenses you can use to fight your case. At Tilem & Associates, we have over 25 years of experience working on a wide variety of cases, and we are committed to making sure you have the best representation possible. For a free and confidential consultation, call us at 877-377-8666 or contact us through our website.