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Miranda Warnings are Alive and Well - for now - in a New York Appellate Court

Posted By Corey Sullivan || 20-Jul-2012

Since the landmark decision of Miranda v. Arizona was handed down in 1966, courts have been chipping away at the breadth of protections that criminal suspects receive. For example, in the 1971 case of Harris v. New York , the Supreme Court found that statements made by a suspect who was not given a Miranda warning could not be used as evidence in the trial against him, but could be used to impeach his testimony if he took the stand. In 1984, the Supreme Court carved out a “public safety” exception to the Miranda requirement in New York v. Quarles . This exception allows a police officer to interrogate – before rendering Miranda warnings - when there may be a risk of harm to the public. These statements made by the suspect can be used against him in court. Recently, in 2010, the US Supreme Court, in Berghuis v. Thompkins , said that courts need not suppress statements made by defendants who received such warnings, did not expressly waive their rights and spoke only after remaining silent through hours of interrogation.

In a recent decision, however, the Appellate Division, First Department bucked the trend and found that a statement made by a suspect not given a Miranda warning could taint a later statement made in a precinct even after a Miranda warning was given. In People v. Perry, police officers entered O’Brian Perry’s apartment with a search warrant and handcuffed him and family members. A sergeant asked Perry to tell him where a handgun was hidden, so that the police would not have to tear up the apartment. When Perry told them, and the police could still not locate the gun, he pointed to the couch it was hidden in. After being transported to the police precinct, the sergeant returned and read Perry his Miranda rights. Perry then admitted that the handgun found in the apartment was his. At a suppression hearing prior to trial, the defense moved to suppress the statement made at the precinct as being tainted as a result of Perry’s prior statement in his apartment where he was never told his Miranda rights. The hearing court found that both statements were admissible, and Perry was found guilty of weapons possession at trial - and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

On appeal, the New York appellate court held that Perry made his statement while in custody and during interrogation. As a result, he should have been given a Miranda warning. Since he was not, his statement was inadmissible as evidence against him. The Court went on to find that the second statement, made after a Miranda warning, was “part of a single continuous chain of events, so that the later warnings were insufficient to dissipate the taint of the initial violation.” The Court therefore ordered a new trial in which precluding both statements.

It is important to have a criminal defense attorney can protect your constitutional rights and ably fight criminal charges against you – including post-conviction and state and federal appeals. The attorneys at Sullivan & Brill have years of experience in both federal and state cases, and have represented clients regarding a wide array of criminal charges.