Police Are Required to Inform A Defendant as to the Reason for Arrest Before A Defendant Can Waive Their Miranda Rights
State v. Sims—-NEWS FLASH—- NJ Appellate Division on January 4, 2021 ruled that police are required to inform a defendant as to the reason for arrest before a defendant can waive their Miranda rights, even if formal charges have not been filed.
Appellate Docket No.: A-2641-17T2
Decided January 4, 2021
Submitted by New Jersey Criminal Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark
In a published opinion, the Appellate Division of New Jersey ruled that police are required to inform a defendant as to the reason for arrest before a defendant can waive their Miranda rights, even if formal charges have not been filed.
In State v. Sims, a victim was shot 15 times. The victim survived, identifying the defendant as the suspect. Police “advised [defendant that] he was being placed under arrest.” The officers “secured him in handcuffs, patted him down, and told him [he] would be transport[ed]” to an Asbury Park satellite office. They did not advise defendant why they were arresting him or about any charges filed against him.
Defendant asked why he was under arrest, and Campanella told him they “would get into the details” when they got to the Asbury Park office. According to the detective, “at this point in time,” “[n]o specific charges” had been filed against defendant, but he had been placed under arrest. When they arrived at the satellite office, defendant was placed in an interview room with a video recording device. Using a Miranda form, the officers advised defendant of his rights, and he initialed each page and signed the form agreeing to waive them. According to Campanella, when defendant was arrested and asked to waive his rights, the officers did not tell him that he was arrested for attempted murder. The police informed him that he was being arrested for “assault.”
Defendant provided a statement providing that he was not in the area at the time of the incident, and did not know the victim personally. The victim’s statement contradicted defendant’s recollection of events. Further, defendant was arrested and charged. His cell phone was seized and the police were able to use the location features to place defendant around the area of the incident, contradicting his statement.
A grand jury later returned an indictment charging defendant with the attempted murder of The victim with a firearm, N.J.S.A. 2C:5-1, N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3, N.J.S.A. 2C:43-6(c) (count one); the unlawful possession of a weapon by a person having been previously convicted of attempted manslaughter, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5(b) and N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5(f) (count two); the possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4(a) (count three); and committing the offense of certain persons not to have a weapon, N.J.S.A. 2C:39- 7(b)(1) (count four).
Defendant moved to suppress his statement made to police, and the motion was denied. Defendant was found guilty on counts one two and three. Defendant appealed the trial court’s denial of the motion to suppress.
The Appellate Division found it is undisputed that defendant was not merely a suspect at the time of his questioning, as he had been placed under arrest. Moreover, not only did the interrogating officers not tell defendant the charges for which he was arrested, but they admitted to intentionally misleading defendant by advising him he was arrested for assault—a much lesser offense than attempted murder. It was for these reasons that defendant could not knowingly or voluntarily waive his Miranda rights. The Appellate Division reversed the trial court’s decision and suppressed defendant’s statement.
This case is important to understand that police now are required to inform a suspect of any complaint or formal charges that are filed, and, now, not filed but potential crimes being investigated before they can properly waive their Miranda rights. Police pressure defendants to produce statements all the time. A seemingly innocent statement without much information could have devastating consequences for a case. For instance, in this case, police were able to use defendant’s cell phone location info to contradict defendant’s statements at to his whereabouts. This is why it is vital to not make any statement without advice of an experienced criminal defense attorney.
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.
We offer payment plan options to clients financially incapable of providing full payment upfront. If you are facing criminal charges similar to this circumstance, please call us to discuss the matter. At Hark & Hark, we represent clients for any case in any county in New Jersey including Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester, Mercer, Ocean, and Salem counties.