New York Court Issues Opinion Underscoring the Importance of “Voluntary” Confessions in Criminal Cases – GUN CONVICTION REVERSED

A Queens County Gun conviction was recently reversed by the Appellate Division, Second Department.  In a recent opinion published by an appellate court in New York, the court emphasized that a defendant must be able to voluntarily waive his right to an attorney before speaking with an investigator about a case. In the case before the court, the defendant appealed the trial court’s denial of his motion to suppress, arguing that because he had recently been in a medically induced coma when a detective questioned him, he was unable to understand his Miranda rights and knowingly and voluntarily waive those rights. On appeal, the higher court agreed with the defendant, reminding officers of how important it is that a defendant can comprehend what is happening before he can be subject to interrogation.

The Defendant’s Medical Condition

According to the opinion, the defendant had been involved in a shooting and was shot in the elbow, the leg, and the lower back. An ambulance took him to the hospital, where he underwent three different surgeries. The hospital then put the defendant in a medically induced coma. When he was able to wake up, he remained in the intensive care unit. At approximately 6:00pm, the same day he underwent surgery, a detective came into the defendant’s hospital room to question the him in about the shooting.

The Defendant’s Miranda Rights

When the detective approached, the defendant asked if he could see a nurse because of his level of physical pain. The detective refused, saying he would call a nurse later, after the questioning was finished. At that point, the detective read the defendant his Miranda rights, indicating that he had the right to remain silent and the right to speak with an attorney. The defendant said he understood. The detective then asked the defendant about the shooting, and the defendant admitted to being guilty of criminal possession of a weapon.

The defendant later filed a motion to suppress these statements, which the trial court denied. On appeal, though, the higher court rejected this ruling. According to the higher court, a defendant’s statement of guilt must be made voluntarily. Here, the defendant had just gotten out of a medically induced coma. He was in pain and on oxygen. When he was later asked about the questioning, he did not remember what he said or what the detective asked him. All of these facts, said the higher court, led to the conclusion that the defendant was not of sound mind. He was therefore not in a position to “voluntarily” confess to a crime.

The court, siding with the defendant, vacated the conviction for criminal possession of a weapon and sent the case back down to the lower court for a new trial.

Do You Need a New York Violent Crimes Attorney?

If you or a loved one is facing charges related to a firearm or a shooting, you need an expert New York violent crimes attorney by your side. At Tilem & Associates, we understand how to make sure our clients’ rights are well protected, and we won’t stop fighting until we get you the results you need. For a free and confidential consultation with one of our attorneys, give us a call today at 877-377-8666. You can also fill out our online form to have a New York violent crimes attorney reach back out to you as soon as possible to discuss the details of your case.


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