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Court Decides on What Constitutes Admissible Evidence

On 13 November 1966, defendant shot his divorced wife with a shotgun in the presence of their two daughters in Baldwin, Long Island. A New York Criminal Lawyer said a gun crime has occurred. Immediately thereafter he drove to the Bronx and told a priest what he had done. Thereafter, the priest went with defendant to Nassau County, where he voluntarily entered the police station and gave himself up.

Defendant, after being warned of his Miranda rights, made an oral waiver of such rights and proceeded to make certain statements to the police in response to their questions. During the questioning he admitted that he had shot his wife but added that his gun had accidentally discharged. A New York Sex Crimes Lawyer said after completing their interrogation, the police officers asked if he would like to sign a statement incorporating his oral statements. Defendant refused to do so until he gets to see a lawyer. He was then asked if he wanted an attorney, and he said, “Yes”.

In the afternoon of that same day, a doctor presented himself to defendant. He said he was there on behalf of the District Attorney and told defendant he did not have to talk to him if he did not want to. The doctor then conducted an examination of defendant which lasted for about an hour and a half.

Subsequently, defendant was charged with murder in the first degree, a criminal charge or a felony.

Defendant pleaded not guilty to the charge of murder in the first degree and offered the defense of insanity.

During trial, the defense presented a medical testimony to the effect that defendant was suffering from psychomotor epilepsy.

On the other hand, A Nassau County Sex Crimes Lawyer said the doctor who conducted the aforementioned examination testified over objection that, based on his examination of defendant, he concluded that defendant was legally sane at the time of the commission of the crime for which he was indicted.

The County Court, Nassau County, convicted defendant of murder in the first degree, upon a jury verdict, and sentenced him to life imprisonment.

Defendant appeals the decision.

The issue here is whether the doctor’s testimony of the aforesaid examination is admissible in evidence regardless of the fact that the examination was conducted after the defendant’s request for an attorney.

The court held that it was a prejudicial error for the lower court to have allowed the testimony in view of the constitutional mandate of the Supreme Court of the United States in the landmark case of Miranda v. Arizona or the Miranda Warnings.

The aforesaid ruling requires that if the individual states that he wants an attorney, the interrogation must cease until an attorney is present. A Queens Sex Crimes Lawyer said tat once an accused has indicated he wants an attorney, custodial interrogation must cease and further questioning cannot be initiated by the police, the prosecution or their agents without the presence of counsel or at least until the accused has had an opportunity to confer with an attorney.

Another case decided by the court has similar facts and finds application herein. In that case, the court has reversed a judgment convicting the defendant of murder in the first degree. There, the defendant, after he was indicted and arraigned, was examined by a psychiatrist without notice to the defendant’s retained attorney or pursuant to an order of the court and without the defendant’s knowledge of the purpose of the examination. There the court stated that since the examining psychiatrist had not been ‘appointed by the court or designated by statute to make an impartial and disinterested mental examination of defendant, it cannot be assumed that his examination was conducted in a manner consistent with the constitutional rights of the accused. Instead he must be regarded as a prosecution witness who may have compelled the accused to furnish evidence against himself. The court went on to state that though the psychiatrist had testified as to no inculpatory statements made by the defendant, the psychiatrist also had concluded, on the basis of his examination of the defendant, that the defendant was sane at the time of the commission of the crime, which conclusion, though not directly incriminating the accused, bore directly on his plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. The court further stated that notice may be taken that the examination to which defendant was subjected by such witness necessarily involved questioning to which defendant responded by word or action in such a way as to indirectly incriminate himself.

It is in the court’s opinion that the above reasoning applies equally to the instant defendant.

While the defendant at bar was not indicted and represented by counsel, he was in police custody and had requested an attorney. To hold otherwise would be to contravene the very basic constitutional rights. It is axiomatic by now that the privilege against self-incrimination is as broad as the evil it seeks to prevent.

Accordingly, judgment is reversed, on the law, and new trial ordered; the findings of fact are affirmed.

The Miranda warnings are constitutionally guaranteed, required and must be strictly followed without any exception. Those criminally charged are not left without protection. If you are similarly situated as the aforesaid case and you want to learn more of your rights, contact Stephen Bilkis & Associates. Have a talk with our Nassau County Criminal Lawyers or our Nassau County Arrest Lawyers and have a defense like no other. A free consultation is available.

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