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People v. Crosby

The outset of a criminal case can be the difference between an acquittal and conviction if a person does not have an attorney present after being arrest or being interrogated. An attorney can save an accused from self-incrimination during the period where an individual is most vulnerable. In the People v Crosby the defendant with an attorney gave a confession which tarnished his chances of an acquittal.

Crosby, the defendant was convicted in the County Court, Nassau County, of murder in the second degree, robbery in the first degree, robbery in the second degree, and criminal possession of weapon in the second degree, and he appealed. The grounds of appeal were that there was no probable cause for the arrest and the confession which he gave should have been inadmissible. The defendant was arrested after the commission of a robbery and shooting where witnesses described the defendant as a black male with purplish pants and jacket with plaid lapel. The Defendant was found lurking in desolate part of railway station sought to evade identification by discarding his coat in the cold of winter, and tried to flee the scene. He was then subjected to full scale arrest when he was handcuffed at gunpoint so that he could be transported to scene of murder. After which he was then taken to the police station read his Miranda Rights and then interrogated about the criminal allegations against him. He later gave a confession which incriminated him in the matter after being read his Miranda rights.

The issue of probable cause for the arrest was examined by assessing the circumstances of his arrest. Probable cause requires, not proof beyond reasonable doubt or evidence sufficient to support conviction, but merely information which would lead reasonable person who possesses same expertise as officer to conclude, under the circumstances, that crime is being or was committed. The police officers did not act arbitrarily in arresting the defendant for the criminal acts but instead acted on the descriptions of eye witness in describing how the three men were dressed and by making a calculated decision in deciding where the defendant and his other accomplice could have gone. The defendant also acted very suspiciously when the officers were observing him in the train station. Additionally, he was identified by the eye witnesses who were there at the scene of the crime. Therefore, the officers had probable cause to arrest the defendant.

The defendant throughout the interrogation was aware of rights especially his understanding of his Miranda rights as he stated that he did not have to speak to anyone and his right to seek legal counsel. As a result, there was no reason to believe that the defendant was been forced to confess about the commission of the crime. Defendant’s incriminating statements to detective were made after knowing, voluntary waiver of defendant’s Miranda rights, where defendant was no novice to criminal justice system, he had already received Miranda warnings twice after his arrest and he did not invoke his right to remain silent or have attorney present during questioning. Miranda warnings are not to be treated as magical incantation required to uphold admissibility of any incriminating statement made in response to police questioning, but are aimed at fully protecting suspect’s constitutional rights. The defendant also stated that the confession was invalid because of the delay in arraigning the defendant. Confession was not subject to suppression as a result of delay in arraignment. The delay was a result of the defendant actions as he wanted to visit his aunt before he was arraigned and to look for his accomplice in Brooklyn.

It was held that the defendant’s arrest was supported by probable cause because of the surrounding circumstances. The defendant’s incriminating statements to detective were made after knowing, voluntary waiver of defendant’s Miranda rights and there was no reasonable possibility that any erroneously admitted evidence contributed to conviction.

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