Andrew J. Proto of the White Plains Law Firm Proto, Sachs & Brown, LLP successfully argued before the Putnam County Court to suppress a client’s statement made to the New York State Police that drugs found a vehicle belonged to the client. This suppression is significant because the Putnam County District Attorney can no longer use the client’s statement to prosecute the client.
The client was charged with Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance as a felony out of the Town of Southeast Court. The client had been indicted, the matter was transferred to the Putnam County Court, and after a defense motion to suppress the client’s incriminating statement of possessing the drugs a pre-trial hearing was granted.
At the pre-trial hearing the State Trooper testified that during the course of his investigation the client had admitted possession of the drugs. Criminal defense attorney Andrew Proto, cross examined the State Trooper and established that early in the investigation the client was not free to leave and without any Miranda warnings the State Trooper began to question the client as to ownership of the illegal drugs as part of a custodial interrogation.
The Court determined that the client was the subject of a custodial interrogation and a reasonable objective person would not have felt free to leave, thereby creating that custodial setting. Importantly, the Court found that the questions of drug ownership went beyond a mere investigation since it was clear the client was under arrest or going to be placed under arrest and that a simple initial investigation by the State Trooper had ended.
In this case timing was critical to determine when exactly Miranda Rights should have been read to the client. Once a custodial interrogation began the State Trooper was required to inform the client of their Constitutional Rights against self incrimination by reading the Miranda Warnings.
Because the State Trooper violated the client’s constitutional rights the County Court Judge saw fit to suppress the statement of ownership of the illegal drugs.
In any criminal prosecution the government will seek to use a client’s admission of wrongdoing to obtain a conviction. As criminal defense attorneys it is important to recognize when a statement is made in violation of an individual's Miranda Rights and therefore subject to suppression.
The Miranda warnings are: You have the right to remain silent, anything you say can be used against you in court, you have the right to the presence of an attorney, and if you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.
Miranda warnings apply to any criminal investigation, not only drug cases. As admissions of wrongdoing could be strong evidence of guilt and attacking unconstitutionally made statements in violation of one’s Miranda Rights is important to any defense.
The criminal defense lawyers at Proto, Sachs & Brown, LLP have decades of experience defending all criminal matters. Attorney Andrew Proto is a published author in the area of Drug Defenses and DWI defense. Andrew regularly appears in the Courts of Westchester, Putnam and the surrounding counties.
If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime and suspects a violation of Miranda warnings call the criminal defense lawyers at Proto, Sachs & Brown, LLP for a free initial consultation (914) 946-4808.
Proto, Sachs & Brown, LLP maintains offices in downtown White Plains and Peeskill, New York.