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Court Discusses Rules that Apply to Direct Evidence


Many questions of law dictate the admissibility of evidence in criminal trials. One of the most common motions that are made by defense attorneys is to suppress evidence. Evidence in a criminal case may be either direct or indirect evidence. It may by physical evidence or it may be testimonial evidence. A New York Sex Crimes Lawyer said because evidence is the crux of any criminal trial, it is important that the rules of evidence are followed carefully by the police and prosecution. The ability to contaminate evidence at any step in the location and collection process can have devastating results on the prosecution’s case against a defendant. Whenever a person is arrested, it is the responsibility of the police officers involved to ensure that the rules of evidence are carefully observed.

The rules that apply to direct evidence are easier to apply than those that apply to indirect evidence. Direct evidence is that evidence that directly links one particular individual to the crime that they have been charged with. Common direct evidence can be fingerprints on a murder weapon, or DNA belonging to the defendant located at the crime scene. Direct evidence must be carefully photographed, logged, isolated, and protected. A New York Sex Crimes Lawyer said there must be a definable chain of custody of the direct evidence in order to maintain the validity of the evidence. If the evidence is mishandled in any way, there can be grounds to have it suppressed and not allowed to be mentioned to the jury during the trial of the person who was indicted. These rules of evidence are critical to protect the rights that American citizens hold dear. A criminal defense attorney considers himself the guardian of the rights of all American citizens to ensure that evidence that is submitted in court, has not been obtained in illegal means in violation of the United States of America’s Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution. Direct evidence is often physical evidence, but not always.

Physical evidence is evidence that has a physical component to it. Physical evidence can be a bullet, a body, or even a gun. Anything that can by physically touched is physical evidence. Physical evidence is usually direct evidence, but there are always exceptions. A Nassau County Sex Crimes Lawyer said it can be debated that photographic evidence is not physical evidence, but is actually a more solid form of indirect evidence.

Indirect evidence is evidence that indirectly links a person to a crime. Indirect evidence is often testimonial evidence. Receipts or other documents that put the defendant in the general area at the approximate time of the offense are also considered indirect evidence. The most common method of corruption of indirect evidence is one associated with the questioning of a suspect either before or after they are in custody. Miranda v Arizona, 1966, provides that any police officer or detective investigating a case, must advise the person who has been arrested of their right to have their attorney present when they are being questioned relative to the case that they were arrested for. Miranda warnings are only applicable if the person is both in custody and being questioned. If one situation exists without the other, the person may be questioned without the right to an attorney. This is often the case in drunk driving cases where a person is asked to perform field sobriety tests. The person is not is custody, so they do not have the right to an attorney. However, they also have the right to refuse to perform the tests which so often are used to incriminate them. If a police officer violates these rules, the defense attorney will most likely file a motion to suppress the evidence. Statements are the most common form of indirect evidence, they are also called testimonial evidence.

Testimonial evidence can be mishandled just like physical evidence can. A Queens Sex Crimes Lawyer said the rules of law that apply to testimonial evidence are the most strict and are constantly being challenged in court. Miranda v Arizona provided the Miranda Warnings to ensure that anyone who is questioned by police or prosecutors following a custodial arrest, is allowed to have an attorney represent them during the questioning. If at any time, a suspect perceives that they are not allowed to leave the presence of the police officers, they may be considered in custody. A criminal defense attorney is the best person to advise a person who feels that these rights have been violated.

New York law provides additional rights to persons who have been arrested that are even greater than those provided in the US Constitution or most other states in the Union. New York has an indelible right to counsel rule. That means that anyone who is in custody for one crime, and is represented by an attorney, cannot be interviewed without that attorney being present about that matter or any other matter. That means that if a person is in custody for a crime where they obtained an attorney, that attorney must be contacted and must be present if the police or prosecutors decide that they want to question the incarcerated person in relationship to anything at all.

In one case, that occurred in New York in 2002, a detective was provided with information that a man who was in prison on an unrelated crime, was a suspect in relationship to a robbery and murder in Staten Island. The detective was investigating the robbery and murder of a bodega owner. He went to the prison where the inmate was incarcerated and made arrangements to meet with him. He was totally unfamiliar with another case that the man was indicted for and which the state had provided him with a public defender for. Because the police detective was unfamiliar with the fact that the inmate was being represented by an attorney, he read him his rights under Miranda and proceeded to interview him. During this interview, the inmate confessed that he was the shooter of the bodega owner.

The inmate’s attorney filed a motion to suppress the evidence because he was not notified of the interrogation and was not present to advise his client to not answer any questions. This situation required the court to decide if the rule of evidence associated with his notification was applicable if the interrogator was unfamiliar with the fact that the inmate was represented by an attorney. The inmate never at any time informed the detective that he was being represented by an criminal lawyer. The detective was not aware of the pending indictment and had no way to know that the man was represented by an attorney at the time that the questioning of the inmate took place.

The court ruled that there was no violation of the rules of evidence in this particular testimonial evidence situation. Since, the detective had no intention of violating the rights of the inmate by questioning him, there was no violation of the law. The court ruled that the confession as well as all of the other testimonial evidence that was obtained by the detective during this interview, were admissible in court.

At Stephen Bilkis & Associates with its criminal lawyers there are convenient offices throughout New York State and Metropolitan area. Our robbery Attorneys can provide you with advice to guide you through difficult situations. Hiring a homicide attorney can prevent you from losing precious time with your family.

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