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New York Court of Appeals Sides with Defendant and Suppresses Incriminating Statements

Earlier this month, an appellate court in New York ruled in favor of a defendant after he was found guilty of both criminal possession of a weapon and  possession of controlled substances. On appeal, the defendant argued that the lower court was incorrect when it decided to admit incriminating statements he had made to a police officer before being given any Miranda warnings. Considering the context of the defendant’s statement, the appellate court reversed the lower court’s decision.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant was charged with several crimes in June 2021: criminal possession of a weapon, unlawful sale of dangerous substances, and criminal use of drug paraphernalia. Because the defendant had to receive medical treatment immediately following an incident with the weapon, he was taken to the hospital and put under emergency care.

A police officer was stationed outside the defendant’s hospital room, and the defendant proceeded to call the officer to his bed and say to him, “I’m beat up.” The officer asked the defendant exactly what happened, and the defendant explained the circumstances around how he illegally came into possession of a weapon. The officer then testified as to these statements before the court, using them as part of the State’s case against the defendant.

The Decision

On appeal, the defendant argued that the incriminating statements should have been suppressed in the lower court. Under the U.S. Constitution, officers must give criminal defendants their Miranda rights before taking statements from those defendants regarding the charges against them. These warnings ensure that criminal defendants know that they have the right to remain silent and have the right to an attorney.

Here, the defendant had not given the defendant these warnings before speaking with him about the incident at hand. The State argued that Miranda warnings were not necessary, since it was not the officer’s intent to elicit statements from the defendant in the first place. If the defendant was not being actively interrogated, said the State, the statements were not necessary.

The court of appeals concluded that when the officer asked the defendant what happened, he was clearly intending to elicit an incriminating response from the defendant in his hospital room. Thus, said the court, the State’s argument was misguided, and Miranda statements were indeed necessary. The court sided with the defendant and reversed the lower court’s decision.

Have You Been Charged with Firearm Possession in the State of New York?

At Tilem & Associates, we too often speak with clients who are not aware of their rights when interacting with police officers after being criminally charged. In our experience, the best thing you can do for yourself if you are facing charges in New York is to speak with a qualified, well-experienced, aggressive defense attorney that has the time to sit you down and walk you through the legal landscape of your case. At Tilem & Associates, our New York criminal defense lawyers take pride in getting to know each of our clients so that we can provide the highest quality representation possible. For a free and confidential consultation, call us today at 877-377-8666.

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