After I was arrested and placed in the back of the police car, the police officer asked me “how is your day going” and I said it would be a lot better if the bank teller would have just given me the money instead of trying to be a hero. At trial, can the prosecution introduce this statement at trial even though I was never read my Miranda Rights?

 

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Under New York law, once a person accused of a crime is in custody, the Miranda Warnings must be given before police interrogate the suspect. Any statements made by the accused, during a custodial interrogation, cannot be used against hi if the suspct was not first read his Miranda Rights.

Based on the rule in New York, there are two parts to this inquiry: (1) was the suspect in custody; and (2) did an interrogation take place. If both of these questions are answered yes and the suspect was not read his Miranda Rights, it is extremely likely the statement cannot be part of the Prosecution’s case against the accused.

First, in analyzing the custody issue, the critical inquiry is whether a reasonable person would have thought he or she was in custody under the totality of the circumstances.  A person is considered to be in custody when that person is physically deprived of his or her freedom in any significant way or is led reasonably to believe that his or her freedom has been curtailed.

Courts in New York have established several clear red-lines where a suspect is in custody. For instance, if a person is handcuffed in the back of a police car, under New York law, that person is in custody.

However, once a New York court finds the suspect was in custody, the analysis does not stop here. Next, courts in New York must determine if an interrogation took place.

Before analyzing whether an “interrogation” took place, clearly, we must define what an interrogation is: an interrogation is questioning by law enforcement designed to elicit a response concerning a crime. Reading in between the lines, it’s also clear that an interrogation does not occur where a statement by an officer to a suspect is not likely to elicit a response does not constitute interrogation.

Here, while certain facts could drastically change the analysis, it seems that under the circumstances, while the person arrested was in custody, the police officer likely did not engage him in an interrogation by asking “how is your day going?”

However, what if the initial arrest putting the accused in the back of the police car was unlawful? Would this change anything?

According to New York State Law, yes indeed, it may change some things. According to courts in the State of New York, where an otherwise voluntary statement is elicited from the accused after an unlawful arrest, the statement may be suppressed as the fruit of that arrest. In this second case, where the accused voluntarily revealed his role in a bank robbery, if for some reason the initial arrest was unlawful, it seems clear a New York defense attorney would have good reason to file a motion to suppress the statement.

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