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New York Court Partially Sides with Defendant in Drug and Firearms Case

Recently, a New York court denied a defendant’s motion to suppress incriminating statements but granted his request for a new hearing in a drug and firearms case. The defendant had been indicted and tried for possession of firearms and controlled substances, but he appealed the verdict by saying that his statements to police officers should have been suppressed. The court denied this motion to suppress but did grant the defendant another hearing based on a second argument he made – that the court did not properly consider whether the DNA evidence used against him was properly analyzed. The court thus reversed the verdict and sent the case back down to the lower court for a new trial.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, police officers in Brooklyn (executing a search warrant they had previously obtained) entered the defendant’s apartment to conduct an investigation. Pursuant to police department policy, the officers handcuffed the defendant upon entry. While inside the apartment, a detective asked the defendant his name, date of birth, address, height, and weight. No Miranda warnings were given prior to this line of questioning. At that point, the defendant stated that his children’s mother was letting him stay in the apartment. He also motioned toward a bed in the living room.

After the defendant left his apartment, the officers found weapons, drugs, and drug paraphernalia in one of the apartment’s back bedrooms. The defendant was later indicted and tried on several counts related to the possession of firearms and controlled substances.

The Decision

On appeal, the defendant argued that the statements he made during the officers’ visit should be suppressed since no Miranda warnings were given before the officers questioned him. The court disagreed, concluding that the questions police officers asked fit into a category of questions called “pedigree questions.” These questions cover facts related to a defendant’s general background, and they do not require officers to give Miranda warnings at all. The court decided that the questions in this situation fit under this exception of “pedigree questions” and that even though the defendant’s admitting to living in the apartment might have been incriminating, this information was admissible in court.

The court did agree with the defendant on the second issue he brought forward on appeal. Previously, the defendant had asked to exclude expert testimony regarding the probability that he was a contributor to a DNA sample that the officers found. The trial court had dismissed this issue, but the appellate court disagreed with the trial court and concluded that the defendant’s issue should have been given more attention. According to the defendant, the detectives’ method of testing his DNA should be further investigated, and the trial court did not afford him an opportunity to verify that the science behind the DNA testing was legitimate. The court agreed, instructing the lower court to conduct further investigation to find out if the DNA evidence was admissible or inadmissible.

Are You Facing Charges After Questioning from a New York Police Officer?

If you or a loved one has been unfairly charged after an interaction with a New York police officer, don’t lose hope. There may be defenses you can raise to fight your case. At Tilem & Associates, we are familiar with the legal landscape in New York and we are dedicated to making sure you understand all of the options available to you. We handle all types of New York firearms cases, as well as drug charges and more. For a free and confidential consultation, call us at 877-377-8666 or contact us through our website.

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