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Court Decides if Confession of Minor is Admissible


A peace officer (not a police officer) was walking along the corner of 14th Street and 31st Avenue at around 6:30 p.m. on July 19, 1963. He saw a 15 year old boy standing on that street corner. A New York Drug Crime Lawyer said he saw another person approach the 15-year old boy and after briefly talking, the person who approached him put a dollar bill on a public mailbox. After that, the15-year old boy passed something from his hand to the man’s hand. The man then turned and left the 15-year old boy.

The peace officer then observed the 15-year old boy walk around the corner. He saw the 15-year old boy shuffling unsteadily until he went inside a grocery store. The peace officer followed him inside the grocery store and noted that the child looked dazed. His eyes were red and droopy like he was so sleepy. The peace officer then approached the boy and asked him what the matter was with him.

The boy answered that he had taken drugs. The peace officer then identified himself to the boy and asked him if he could frisk him. The boy acquiesced. The peace officer then frisked the boy and found hard objects in his right front pants pocket. The peace officer then asked the boy to remove the contents of his pockets.

The boy took out two brown bottles of pills. The pills inside one brown bottle were while and bore the manufacturer’s name on it. The other brown bottle contained green pills. A New York Drug Possession Lawyer the peace officer then asked him what the pills were. The boy told the peace officer that the pills he took were drugs and he volunteered the fact that he had been taking the drug for about a month and a half.

The peace officer then brought the boy to the police station and there the boy was held in custody. Before any criminal charges can be brought a hearing was held to determine delinquency. That is to say, a hearing was scheduled by the trial court to answer the question: did the minor child here commit acts which, if he were of legal age, can be considered a crime? And if the 15-year old child were found to be a delinquent, the next question to be determined is whether or not the child needs supervision.

The peace officer was called to testify. The peace officer testified as to the statements made by the boy to him of having taken the drugs and of having known that he had in his possession the drugs and of having sold them for fifty cents each at a street corner.

The legal guardian of the minor child then raised the question of whether or not the statements made by the 15-year old child to the peace officer can be considered extra-judicial confessions. And if they are considered as extra-judicial confessions, the legal guardian raised the question of whether or not the confession of the 15-year old child needs to be corroborated. The legal guardian also raised the issue of whether or not the peace officer was empowered to conduct searches and seizures. A Nassau County Drug Possession Lawyer said the legal guarding filed a motion to suppress the pills and the dollar bills on the ground that the peace officer illegally arrested the boy and his search of the boy’s person and his seizure of the pills and the dollar bills from the person of the boy constituted an unreasonable search and seizure consequent to an illegal arrest.

The Court held that the 15-year old child’s admissions to the peace officer were all true in fact. The child’s admissions were corroborated by the object evidence: the brown bottles filled with pills; the pills which bore the trademark of the manufacturer; and the nine one dollar bills that were found in his pants pocket.

The boy knew that the pills were not candy: in fact he knew them to be drugs which had a marked effect on the human body. He even admitted having taken those drugs and he knew that the sleepiness he felt was due to his having taken those drugs. He also knew that other people were interested in obtaining those drugs that he sold. A Queens Drug Possession Lawyer said the Court held that it was not necessary for the boy to know the scientifically exact knowledge of the substances in the drugs at the time that he was arrested to be guilty of knowingly possessing and selling drugs. It is sufficient for him to know that what he had in his possession and what he was selling was capable of altering the function of the human body. For this reason also, it is unnecessary for the People to produce the chemistry report regarding the exact chemical composition of the drugs that the boy was selling to come to the conclusion that the boy was seen by the peace officer as he was committing all the elements of the drug crime of sale and distribution of illegal drugs.

The Court also held that the drugs had the brand name Doriden, a known and registered barbiturate. The Penal Law prohibits the mere possession of a barbiturate without proper label. Any person possessing and selling barbiturates without a license to persons who do not have a prescription from a duly- licensed physician is in violation of penal law.

The Court also held that in the state of New York, the possession, sale or distribution for free of drugs from door-to-door is also illegal in New York if the drugs are not properly labeled. Again the boy here is in violation of the Education Law and his violation is a punishable act.

As to the question of whether or not the peace officer arrested the boy, the Court held that the peace officer saw the elements of a crime being committed. The peace officer is a guard or correctional officer who worked at the Bronx House of Detention for Youths. The prohibition in the Constitution against illegal arrests and unreasonable searches and seizures do not apply to the corrections officer who is not a police officer. The peace officer acted within the confines of the law that empowers him to make an arrest when a crime is being committed in his presence.

The Court also noted that the peace officer asked the boy’s consent for his person to be searched and for the items found on his person to be seized. The Court noted that the boy handed the brown bottles to the peace officer and handed to him the dollar bills which were in his pocket. This happened prior to the boy’s arrest. This means that the boy was not searched consequent to an arrest; the drugs and the bills were not seized consequent to an arrest. It was the other way around: the boy was searched and the items found on him were seized before he was placed under arrest.

The Court noted that the evidence in the testimony of the peace officer showed that he was motivated by a concern for the 15 year old boy who was so obviously walking unsteadily and his face bore the expression of one under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Thus, the Court held that there is a prima facie case against the child: that he was committing acts that amount to a crime if he were an adult. With this finding, the case was remanded to the trial court to allow the boy to present evidence on his behalf.

Are you like the boy in the case who was caught in possession of drugs? Were you caught selling drugs? Are you faced with a hearing to determine if you are a delinquent? The legal team from Stephen Bilkis and Associates are willing and able to represent you and to present evidence in your behalf. Call the NY Drug Crime Attorneys from Stephen Bilkis and Associates and allow them to argue in your behalf.

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