People throughout New Jersey are aware that if individuals are stopped by the police, they must first be advised of their Miranda rights before any interrogation begins. It is not typical, though, for a person to know the full extent of the Miranda warning or to know if a less then complete warning has been administered. Regardless of an individual’s independent knowledge of their rights, if an investigating officer fails to provide a proper warning to a defendant, it may result in the dismissal of any conviction that arises out of evidence obtained via the defendant’s interrogation, as shown in a recent New Jersey case. If you are accused of a crime, it is advisable to meet with an accomplished New Jersey criminal defense attorney to examine your rights.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the police stopped a car in the early morning for a traffic violation. There were two passengers in the car, one of whom was the defendant, that the driver identified as minors. The police noticed an odor of alcohol during the stop and requested that the driver undergo field sobriety testing. The driver became belligerent and ordered the other passengers to take things from the car. When the passenger door was opened the smell of marijuana wafted out of the vehicle. The police then advised the defendant to place her belongings back in the car because, at that time, they were going to conduct a narcotics investigation. The defendant complied and was advised of her Miranda rights.

Allegedly, the officer then asked the defendant if a purse in the car belonged to her. She responded, yes. The officer did not confirm that the defendant waived her rights prior to questioning her. Narcotics were found in the purse. The defendant was then charged with possession of a controlled dangerous substance and was adjudicated delinquent. She appealed, arguing that she was not properly advised of her rights.

Consequences of the Failure to Properly Administer Miranda Rights

On appeal, the court found in favor of the defendant. Specifically, the court noted that while the arresting officer informed the defendant that she had the right to remain silent and her statements could be used against her and that she had the right to be represented by an attorney, she was not informed that she could stop the questioning at any time. Further, she was not asked whether she waived her right to remain silent.

The court noted that while typically a roadside questioning of a motorist or passenger does not constitute custodial interrogation and does not require Miranda warnings, a narcotics investigation was being conducted at the time the defendant was advised of her rights and questioned, and therefore the warning was required. By leaving out the fifth part of the warning, the police officer failed to adequately inform the defendant of her rights. As such, the Miranda requirements were not satisfied, and the lower court ruling was reversed.

Meet with a Trusted New Jersey Attorney

People who are accused of a drug crime have rights from the time they are detained, and if an officer violates a person’s rights, it may result in an unjust outcome. If you are charged with a criminal offense, it is prudent to meet with an attorney to discuss what steps you can take to attempt to protect your interests. The trusted New Jersey criminal defense attorneys of The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall are proficient at defending people in a variety of criminal matters, and if you engage our services, we will fight tirelessly on your behalf. We can be contacted at 877-450-8301 or through the form online to set up a meeting.