Suspect handcuffed at parole office was unlawfully detained
Generally, if a suspect is held in custody for a crime without either probable cause or a reasonable suspicion that the suspect committed a crime, such a detention will be considered unlawful. Even if a suspect is advised of his Miranda rights in such a situation, any evidence gathered during the unlawful detention may not be admissible in court.
The New York Supreme Court, Kings County case of People v. Rivera involved such a situation, where the defendant was facing felony charges based on an alleged confession.
A suspect “not under arrest” . . . is handcuffed and held
After a shooting in a multiple dwelling building in Kings County, an informant suggested to a detective that a person named “Joey” might be responsible. The information was based on “what everyone else was saying” in the neighborhood and not on personal knowledge. It was unclear how this led to the defendant, whose name was Jose.
Nevertheless, the detective contacted the defendant’s parole officer and asked for a “parole hold,” meaning the defendant would be held until the detective arrived. When the detective arrived, the defendant was sitting handcuffed to a chair.
The officer told the defendant he was not under arrest, but did again place him in handcuffs and transported him to the precinct in the back seat of his squad car. The defendant was taken to an interrogation room which was bolted closed. The defendant was held in the room alone for more than an hour before the officer read the defendant his Miranda rights. The officer also presented a false photo array that made it appear that the defendant had been identified as the shooter. Shortly after the interrogation began, the defendant admitted he was the shooter.
The defendant moved to suppress the statements he had made to police, arguing that his interrogation was unlawful and even his statements after being given his Miranda warnings were tainted by the unlawful detention.
Was this an illegal detention?
The New York Supreme Court, Kings County noted that the police did not have either probable cause or even a reasonable suspicion to hold the defendant; only speculation and rumor. Yet, when the officer told the defendant he was “going back to the precinct,” it was a mandatory direction.
The fact the officer said the defendant was not under arrest still did not mean that a reasonable person would have understood that he was free to leave. In fact, the defendant was immediately handcuffed again at the parole office and escorted in handcuffs to the precinct where he was placed in a locked room. In addition, the defendant had been handcuffed at the parole office for approximately a half hour before the officers even arrived.
Under the totality of circumstances, a reasonable person in the defendant’s position would not have believed that he or she was free to leave, and there were no intervening events before his alleged confession which removed the taint of the illegal detention. Thus, the defendant’s motion to suppress the evidence related to the criminal charges was granted.
If you are charged with a serious felony, you may be facing severe mandatory penalties. Selecting the right attorney, who can carefully review the evidence and legal issues surrounding your case, is vital to protecting your rights and freedom. Seek an attorney who can provide you with realistic advice to help you decide how best to proceed in your situation.