As best-selling criminal defense authors in both general criminal defense and DWI Law, our lawyers know that one of law enforcement’s greatest tools for a conviction is the statement of admission of the accused. In the context of DWI defense the police are always trying to elicit statements from an accused from the moment they are stopped by the police.
The New York State Criminal Procedure Law, CPL section 710.30, requires in every criminal case, including a DWI prosecution, an accused must be noticed of statements made to law enforcement that the District Attorney wants to use against an accused no later than 15 days from arraignment. This gives the Westchester County DWI defense lawyer notice and time to argue for suppression of incriminating statements as a violation of constitutional rights.
Recently, the 3rd Department of the Appellate Division in People v. Higgins, 124 AD3d 929 (2015) determined when a right to counsel attaches. The Court found that the defendant’s statement at the outset of the booking process that he wanted to speak to a Westchester County criminal defense lawyer before he would sign anything was merely prospective and did not invoke his right to counsel. But his later request to be allowed to call his attorney was sufficient as the police agreed to the request but provided no means for the accused to make the telephone call. Any statements elicited thereafter were properly suppressed.
The video of the booking process revels that most of the statements made by the defendant before he was read his Miranda rights were made without being solicited by officers but statements made following three instances of questions were properly suppressed. Portions of the video showing only the defendant’s physical condition and appearance were not suppressible as communicative statements. Finally, because the defendant’s request for counsel was general and not a specific request to consult with an attorney before deciding whether to submit to a chemical test his refusal was admissible.
What the DWI lawyer and accused need to take away from this decision that a request for counsel must not be general in nature. Our DWI lawyers have received telephone calls from client at a roadside stop and from police stations. That is a specific request. An accused must always invoke their right to counsel.
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In order to protect an accused rights the facts of each case need to be reviewed in detail. Sometimes if an incriminating statement is suppressed that can weaken the entire prosecution’s case and push a favorable plea bargain or establish a strong defense at trial.
If you or a loved one is charged with DWI in Westchester County or the surrounding counties call our DWI lawyers today. We immediately, get to work preparing your defense and keep you informed of our legal strategy to protect your rights. We are an experienced and aggressive law firm with main offices in downtown White Plains, NY and offer a free initial consultation. Call the Westchester County criminal defense lawyers today (914) 946-4808.