In a recent opinion from a New York court involving a robbery conviction, the court denied the defendant’s request to suppress his incriminating statements. The defendant was found guilty of robbery in the second degree and the third degree; he appealed by arguing that the officer that arrested him lacked probable cause to make the arrest in the first place, and thus that any statements that came after the arrest should be excluded from court. The court disagreed, ultimately denying the defendant’s appeal.
Facts of the Case
According to the opinion, the defendant was driving his car when he rolled through a stop sign and was stopped by a police officer. The officer asked to see the defendant’s driver’s license, registration, and insurance; as he pulled out these items, the officer noticed a can of pepper spray in the defendant’s glove compartment. The officer also noticed during the stop that the defendant’s car matched the make, color, and partial license plate number of a car that had been involved in robberies in the same area the previous evening. The officer also remembered that during these robberies, one of the victims was pepper-sprayed in the eyes.
Given the circumstances, the officer arrested the defendant for criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree, inferring from what he noticed during the stop that the defendant was a suspect for the crime. After the arrest, the defendant made incriminating statements that were later used against him in court. After trial, the defendant was convicted of three counts of robbery in the second degree as well as robbery in the third degree.
The Court’s Decision
On appeal, the defendant argued that the officer did not have probable cause to arrest him at the traffic stop in the first place. Because the pepper spray and model of his car did not serve as sufficient evidence for an arrest, the defendant argued that any statements he made during the traffic stop should be excluded from court. If the initial arrest was unreasonable, said the defendant, the use of any statements that occurred thereafter was also unreasonable.
The court disagreed. While it is true, said the court, that any statements made after an illegal arrest would normally be excluded from the prosecution’s case, the statements in this scenario followed a stop that was both legal and justified. The court announced that the pepper spray and car gave the officer enough reason to arrest the defendant, and thus that the defendant’s subsequent statements were fair game. What’s more, said the court, the defendant made the incriminating statements only after voluntarily waiving his Miranda rights. Because the defendant had heard about his right to be silent and had chosen not to exercise it, the statements he made were acceptable for the prosecution to use.
Have You Been Charged with Robbery in New York?
For many defendants, a New York robbery charge can feel like the end of the road. At The Law Office of Mark A. Siesel, we are prepared with possible defenses that can help you fight your case with as much vigor as possible. We are a team of experienced, zealous advocates who are familiar with the legal landscape in New York and who are ready to stand by your side. To schedule your consultation, give us a call at (914) 428-7386.