Appellate Standard of Review for a Motion to Suppress

Submitted by New Jersey Criminal Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark.

State v. Aziz.  Decided March 31, 2016

In reviewing the denial of a motion to suppress for an alleged violation of Miranda, we use a “searching and criticalstandard of review to protect a defendant’s constitutional rights. State v. Maltese, 222 N.J. 525, 543 (2015) (quoting State v. Hreha, 217 N.J. 368, 381-82 (2014), cert. denied, ___ U.S. ___ (2016)). We defer to a trial court’s fact findings on a Miranda motion, if supported by sufficient credible evidence. Hreha, supra, 217 N.J. at 381-82 (citing State v. Johnson, 42 N.J. 146, 161 (1964)). We do not, however, defer to a trial judge’s legal conclusions, which we review de novo. State v. Rockford, 213 N.J. 424, 440 (2013).

The State bears the burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the interrogating officers have complied with Miranda. State v. Yohnnson, 204 N.J. 43, 59 (2010). The trial judge must examine the totality of the circumstances. State v. Adams, 127 N.J. 438, 447-48 (1992).

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