Waiving Your Rights When It Comes to Self-Incrimination
You should not give it a second thought. Your right to keep silent during a police interrogation matters. And, waiving your rights when it comes to self-incrimination could do you great harm.
That said, law enforcement authorities have particular obligations when it comes to asking you to waive your rights. In fact, the New Jersey Supreme Court emphasized those duties in the matter of State v. Vincenty. New Jersey’s highest court decided to overturn the Appellate Division’s opinion on March 11, 2019.
- The defendant’s name is spelled three different ways in this matter. Adrian A. Vincenty is also known as Adrian A. Vicente and Adrian A. Vicenty
According to the case history, Adrian was incarcerated at the Garden State Correctional Facility when two detectives came to question him. Detectives Thomas Glackin and Brian Meara were investigating an attempted robbery and attempted murder that occurred on March 20, 2011, in Weehawken.
- Although he was shot in the back of the head, the victim, Jerry Castellano, was lucky enough to survive his attackers. Video surveillance showed there were two individuals involved in the incident. One wore a mask and threw it away.
- That said, the police found the mask and tested it to determine if the assailant left behind DNA evidence. Not only did the result come back to Adrian, but the detectives also recognized him in the video.
Meanwhile, the police could not determine the identity of the second assailant. Detective Glackin asked Detective Meara to accompany him to the correctional facility to speak with Adrian. He did so because the defendant only speaks Spanish and Detective Meara is bilingual.
Self-Incrimination: An Important Concern
Before the interrogation began, Detective Meara read Adrian his Miranda rights. Additionally, he provided the defendant with a form detailing the rights in both Spanish and English. Adrian read the document and acknowledged it. However, here’s where it might seem a bit tricky. Although the defendant was advised of his rights, the police officers failed to do something critical to the arrest.
As it turns out, neither Detective Glackin nor Detective Meara informed Adrian of the charges filed against him. How could he, therefore, waive his right against self-incrimination? According to the New Jersey Supreme Court, the defendant could not intelligently make a decision without knowing the charges against him.
Self-incrimination is a long-standing privilege under the law. According to the courts, a “waiver against the right against self-incrimination must be knowing, intelligent, and voluntary.” In this matter, Adrian didn’t even find out he was a suspect in an attempted robbery and murder until after he waived his rights. When he did learn there were charges against him, Adrian asked for a lawyer. Nonetheless, the detectives continued to question him until he repeated his request for an attorney.
- Meanwhile, Adrian had already provided the detectives with a statement. When the case went to trial, his attorneys asked for its suppression.
The Supreme Court decided since Adrian was unaware of the charges against him, his statement should be suppressed. The waiver of his rights against self-incrimination was improperly obtained. The case was remanded back to the trial court. The prosecution will not be able to use Adrian’s statement in pursuing a case against him.
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