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Motion to Suppress in New Jersey

A motion to suppress is used to prevent evidence from being introduced during trial when the evidence is not obtained legally or in violation of a defendant’s constitutional rights. In most situations, police obtain evidence illegally by intimidating a suspect to confess, and then the prosecution uses the confession as evidence during trial. People might wonder why someone innocent would confess to a crime s/he did not commit, but under pressure and emotional distress, a person may say anything in hopes of moving on with life.

In Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966), a man was arrested based on circumstantial evidence linking him to the kidnapping and rape of an 18-year-old woman 10 days earlier. After two hours of interrogation by police, the man signed a confession to the rape. At no time was the man told of his right to counsel, and he was not advised of his right to remain silent or that his statements would be used against him. At trial, prosecutors offered the written confession as evidence. The confession was not truly voluntary and but the court did not exclude it from evidence. On appeal to the US Supreme Court, the court found that due to the coercive nature of the custodial interrogation by police, no confession could be admissible under the 5th Amendment self-incrimination clause and 6th Amendment right to an attorney unless a suspect had been made aware of rights and waived them.

After the Miranda decision, police are required to give suspects in custody Miranda warnings on their rights before any interrogation by a government agent. Custody exists where a person is not free to leave. Interrogation exists where an officer makes statements or engages in conduct likely to elicit an incriminating response from a person held in custody. State of Oregon v. Mathiason, U.S. S.Ct. (1977).

According to the US Supreme Court, “Miranda warnings are required to be given only where there has been such a restriction on a person’s freedom as to render him in custody.” Id (emphasis added). Police give Miranda warnings if a reasonable person in the suspect’s position during the interrogation would experience a restraint on his or her freedom of movement to the degree normally associated with a formal arrest.

When charged with a crime, engage an experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney to prevent the prosecution from using evidence that violates constitutional rights.

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