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Defendant Denied Right to Counsel


This case is about the Prosecution’s appeal from the order of the Supreme Court, Queens County, dated May 12, 1982, which granted defendant’s motion to suppress certain statements since his Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights were violated by the Police Officers.

A New York Criminal Lawyer said on March 12, 1981, the defendant was arrested on charges of murder in Pemberton, New Jersey. The murder occurred on May 23, 1980 in Queens County, New York. The detectives took the defendant to the local police station in Pemberton, where he was read his Miranda rights. He was then transported to the Burlington County’s prosecutor’s office where he was again given his Miranda rights. Later that day, at approximately 3:00 P.M., defendant was produced before a Judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey where he waived his right to extradition and agreed to return voluntarily to New York.

Specifically, the New Jersey Judge exhaustively explained to defendant his options as well as the concept of extradition considering that he is also wanted in the City of New York for the crime of murder. The said Judge also offered to give him a lawyer if he could not afford one, in case he opts for extradition. After having been apprised of his options, Defendant unequivocally chose to go back to New York voluntarily, thereby waiving his right to extradition.

A New York Criminal Lawyer said the defendant was immediately taken back to the 112th Precinct in Queens County to be processed on the murder charge and arrived there around 7:00 P.M. He was again given his Miranda rights which he again waived. Defendant thereafter requested to speak to his father, and after doing so, made inculpatory statements with regard to a different and unrelated murder of another person. The other murder had occurred on January 6, 1981, in Queens County, and was being investigated by arresting officers.

A New York Criminal Lawyer said thereafter, Defendant moved to suppress his statements on the grounds that (1) his arrest in New Jersey was illegal and violated his Fourth Amendment rights and (2) his statements were involuntary, and violated his Fifth Amendment rights. The said motion was granted. Hence, this appeal.

It is a well settled jurisprudence that, in New York, the constitutional right to counsel not only attaches upon the formal commencement of a criminal action, through the filing of an accusatory instrument, e.g., an indictment or felony complaint, but also attaches “when there has been significant judicial activity, even though that activity precedes the formal commencement of criminal prosecution”. However, it is required that these instances or activities involve “adversary judicial criminal proceedings”.

A New York Criminal Lawyer said in contrast, it has been consistently held that the extradition process is not a critical stage of a criminal proceeding and the constitutional right to counsel does not attach thereat. Accordingly, the Court held that the Defendant’s right to counsel did not attach during the New Jersey proceeding.

Moreover, even assuming, arguendo, that (1) the New Jersey proceeding constituted significant judicial activity prior to the formal commencement of a criminal action, and (2) defendant’s constitutional right to counsel did attach, the ultimate result of this appeal would not be different. A New York Drug Possession Lawyer said the Court of Appeals has recently stated that “there is a clear distinction between cases in which by reason of the commencement of formal criminal proceedings a defendant’s right to counsel has ‘indelibly attached’ and can be waived only in the presence or with the concurrence of counsel * * * and those in which significant judicial activity prior to formal commencement of a criminal proceeding establishes a right to counsel which may be waived in the absence of counsel * * * provided only the waiver is voluntarily and intelligently made.”

The court found that the Miranda rights (including the right to counsel) were properly given and, although an attorney was not present, were voluntarily and intelligently waived by defendant. Accordingly, a New York Sex Crimes Lawyer said finding that the New Jersey proceeding constituted significant judicial activity would still not mandate suppression of defendant’s statements. The Court reversed the assailed order.

Stephen Bilkis and Associates with its New York Criminal Lawyers can fully enforce your right in accordance with due process law. It has offices conveniently located within New York Metropolitan area, including Corona, New York.

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