If You Have Not Been Charged with a Crime, Police Do Not Have to Inform You If You Are Arrested or If You Are a Suspect
Appellate Docket No.: A-4388-18T4
Decided November 23, 2020
Submitted by New Jersey Criminal Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark.
In an unpublished opinion, the Appellate Division of New Jersey reviewed whether a suspect’s statement made to police is admissible when he was wrongfully informed that he was not under arrest.
In State v. Wade, a dark-colored Audi sedan pulled out from an intersection of William Street and Twelfth Avenue in Paterson and stopped next to the victim’s vehicle. Several shorts were fired into the victim’s vehicle, fatally wounding him.
The vehicle believed to be involved in the investigation was viewed from security footage obtained near the crime scene. The vehicle contained in the footage was also the subject of a large scale State Police auto theft investigation in Paterson. A communications data warrant (CDW) authorized the installation of a GPS monitoring system on the vehicle in an attempt to combat auto thefts.
The police also identified two suspects from the footage recovered from the crime scene. The State Police shared the information of the GPS monitoring with Paterson police, and Paterson police were able to follow the path of the vehicle earlier on the day of the incident, and recovered security footage from different areas of the vehicle’s location. The footage also showed the identification of the two suspects shown on the original footage of the crime scene.
Police arrested defendant with guns drawn. The police were able to recover defendant’s cell phone. Police recovered defendant’s GPS monitoring and call information on his cell phone and matched it with the information from the GPS tracking of the vehicle on the day of the incident.
Upon questioning defendant at the police station, the police mistakenly state that defendant was not under arrest. Defendant was read his miranda rights, did not request an attorney, and began to say that he was at the liquor store during the incident. Police revealed that they had obtained video footage that defendant was at the scene of the crime, and defendant ceased talking with police.
Defendant was indicted of second-degree unlawful possession of a weapon, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5(b)(1) (count one); first-degree purposeful or knowing murder, N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3(a)(1), (2) (count two); first-degree conspiracy to commit murder, N.J.S.A. 2C:5-2 and 2C:11-3(a) (count three); fourth-degree certain persons not to have weapons, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-7(a) (count four); second-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4(a)(1) (count five); and third-degree receiving stolen property, N.J.S.A. 2C:20-7(a) and 2C:20- 2(b)(2)(b) (count six).
Prior to Trial, the State moved to admit the defendant’s statement to police that he was at the liquor store, contrary to the surveillance and GPS evidence. Defendant argued he was wrongfully informed that he was not arrested and thus the statement was coerced. The Trial Court allowed the statement.
Defendant was convicted on all charges. Defendant appealed and the Appellate Division found that if defendant had been charged with a crime, police would have to disclose prior to getting a statement. But because defendant was only arrested, albeit wrongly stated otherwise, he was read his Miranda Rights and had been arrested before, which was enough for defendant to voluntarily give his statement.
This case is important because if you have not been charged with a crime, police do not have to inform you if you are arrested or if you are a suspect. It is always safe to assume that you are a suspect and police are trying to wrench a statement from you. Say nothing, and ask for your attorney always.
At Hark & Hark, we represent clients in Superior Court for criminal matters like the present case involving motions to suppress. We vigorously defend our clients by fighting to uphold their constitutional rights, and ensure law enforcement follow proper procedures to legally make an arrest
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