The People of the State of New York failed to demonstrate that the defendant understood the Miranda warnings and his statement, therefore, such statements should have been suppressed. Here, the “defendant was charged, inter alia, with robbery in the second degree and criminal possession of stolen property in the fifth degree based on allegations that he personally, or acting in concert with others, committed robberies in two stores in Brooklyn.” He was convicted of robbery in the second degree (three counts) and criminal possession of stolen property in the fifth degree. The Court “Ordered that the judgment is reversed, on the law, the defendant’s motion to suppress his statements to law enforcement officials is granted, and a new trial is ordered.”
Once the right to counsel is invoked, a New York Defendant has the indelible right to counsel. Police cannot question a New York Defendant once that Defendant demands an attorney. This case is a hallmark example of how Miranda rights can be skirted and, sometimes, disregarded when a Defendant is not of sound capacity, mind or understanding as to his constitutional rights, his Miranda rights, and how to exercise those rights. Involuntarily given statements are inadmissible. The court sets out the hallmark factors of admissibility of a Defendant’s statement:
“[F]or a statement to be admissible, the People must prove a voluntary, knowing, and intelligent waiver of the privilege against self-incrimination” (People v Aveni, 100 AD3d 228, 236  [citation omitted]; see People v Rodney, 85 NY2d 289, 292 ; People v Williams, 62 NY2d 285, 288 ). “Whether a defendant knowingly and intelligently waived his or her rights to remain silent and to an attorney is determined upon an inquiry into the totality of the circumstances surrounding the interrogation” (People v Santos, 112 AD3d 757, 758  [internal quotation marks omitted]; see People v Williams, 62 NY2d at 288), including the defendant’s “age, experience, education, background, and intelligence, and . . . whether he [or she] has the capacity to understand the warnings given him [or her], the nature of his [or her] Fifth Amendment rights, and the consequences of waiving those rights” (Fare v Michael C., 442 US 707, 725 ). Where a “person of subnormal intelligence” is involved, “close scrutiny must be made of the circumstances of the asserted waiver” (People v Williams, 62 NY2d at 289).
“A defendant’s mental deficiency weighs against the admissibility of an elicited confession, so that any such confession must be measured by the degree of the defendant’s awareness of the nature of the rights being abandoned and the consequences of the decision to abandon them” (People v Dunn, 195 AD2d 240, 242 , affd 85 NY2d 956 ). A suspect of “subnormal intelligence” may effectively waive his or her Miranda rights “so long as it is established that he or she understood the immediate meaning of the warnings” (People v Williams, 62 NY2d at 287), that is, “how the Miranda rights affected the custodial interrogation” (id. at 289). Therefore, it must be shown that the suspect “grasped that he or she did not have to speak to the interrogator; that any statement might be used to the subject’s disadvantage; and that an attorney’s assistance would be provided upon request, at any time, and before questioning is continued. What will suffice to meet this burden will vary from one case to the next” (id.).
The Appellate Division, Third Department, provides another example of why it is important to speak to an attorney before speaking with the police, even in a traffic stop. New York DWI is not limited to alcohol. As prescription medications become more prescribed and more prevalent in the lives of New Yorkers, one must understand that Driving Under the Influence and New York Driving While Ability Impaired can occur with a mix of legal drugs and alcohol. New York Driving While Ability Impaired can result from taking legally prescribed medication in excess or to the point of intoxication. Of course, Driving While Ability Impaired can also result from taking illegal medications, such as prescription painkillers, and driving a vehicle.
New York Criminal Defense attorneys and clients should know that even over the counter medications can impair one’s ability to a drive a vehicle. Medications have obvious warnings on them: do not operate heavy machinery, do not take more than a certain amount, etc. One must be diligent in what he or she ingests. Additionally, one must be very careful not to get behind the wheel of a car under the influence of any intoxicant. Lastly, should you be confronted by the police, whether for a traffic stop or because you were in a car accident, speak to an attorney: Call the Law Offices of Cory H. Morris – 631-450-2515.
This case involved a car crash where it was alleged that the driver was driving while his ability to do so was impaired that resulting in death. What is key to note is that the driver demanded an attorney – something everyone should do when questioned by the police – and his indelible right to counsel attached (in New York the right to counsel is indelible) which the police violated and, as a result, the chemical tests were suppressed.