Defendant Was Subjected to Custodial Interrogation Before Waiving His Right to Remain Silent—Oral Pre-Miranda and Written Post-Miranda Statements Should Have Been Suppressed—Error Deemed Harmless
The Second Department determined defendant’s pre-Miranda statements, as well as his post-Miranda written statement, should have been suppressed because the defendant was in custody and interrogated before he waived his right to remain silent. Defendant had been stopped by two police cars, one of which cut off defendant’s lane of travel. Defendant then consented to going to the police station where he was placed in a locked room and subjected to accusatory questioning. (The court ultimately determined the error was harmless, however):
Contrary to the suppression court’s determination, the statements made by the defendant at the police station should have been suppressed as the product of custodial interrogation conducted without the benefit of Miranda warnings. “Miranda warnings need not be given until both the elements of police custody’ and interrogation’ are present” … . The issue of whether a suspect is in custody is generally a question of fact … . In deciding whether a defendant was in custody before receiving Miranda warnings, “the subjective beliefs of the defendant are not to be the determinative factor” … . Nor does the determination turn on the subjective intent of the police officer … . Rather, the test is “what a reasonable man [or woman], innocent of any crime, would have thought had he [or she] been in the defendant’s position” … . “[T]he term interrogation’ under Miranda refers not only to express questioning, but also to any words or actions on the part of the police (other than those normally attendant to arrest and custody) that the police should know are reasonably likely to elicit an incriminating response from the suspect” … .
Here, a reasonable, innocent person would not have believed that he or she was free to leave the police station at the time the defendant made his oral statements to the police … . Moreover, the questions by the police were accusatory in nature, rather than merely investigatory, and were designed to elicit an incriminating response … . Accordingly, the oral statements made by the defendant at the police station were the product of custodial interrogation without Miranda warnings and should have been suppressed. Furthermore, the written statement by the defendant, although created after Miranda warnings were issued, also should have been suppressed, as there was no attenuation between the statements that were obtained unlawfully and the written statement … . People v Reardon, 2015 NY Slip Op 00394, 2nd Dept 1-14-15