NJ Appellate Court Decision: Defendant Must be Informed of Charges Against them for Effective Miranda

A decision was released this morning by the Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey which drastically broadens New Jersey Criminal Procedure with respect to Miranda warnings. According to State v. Sims, a case which originated out of Monmouth County, police officers now must inform any suspect/ or interrogee of the nature of the charges against him or her as part of the Miranda warnings process. 

In other words, before a suspect provides a statement to police, the officers must tell that individual what he or she is being charged with. In State v. Sims, which involves an attempted murder suspect, the officers arrested the suspect and then told him they “would get into the details” back at the Asbury Park office and according to the detective, there had not been any charges filed against defendant at that point in time. When they got to the station, the police provided Miranda forms to defendant (he initialed each page), and an officer told him that he was “under arrest for assault,” and the officer said , “I’m sure you have a ton of questions. Ill be happy to get into all that, okay, in just a few minutes. Let’s just finish this form. Okay?” So, the officer had misguided defendant into believing he was just being charged with assault, when in fact he was under investigation for attempted murder. The defendant then waived his rights and continued to give a full statement to police.

In the decision by the Appellate Court which can be found here, the Judges found that “Because an arrestee cannot knowingly waive his miranda rights if the authorities do not explain why he is being arrested; it was erroneous for the trial court to admit defendant’s statement to trial.” The decision further mentions: “Unlike the issuance of a criminal complaint or arrest warrant, suspect status is not an objectively verifiable and discrete fact, but rather an elusive concept that will vary depending on subjective considerations of different police officers. A suspect to one police officer may be a person of interest to another officer. Moreover, we emphasized that “[o]ur holding [in A.G.D.] is not to be construed as altering existing case law . . . other than imposing the basic requirement to inform an interrogatee that a criminal complaint or arrest warrant has been filed or issued.” 

In essence, the failure to advise the defendant of the charges against him will result in a suppression of his statement to police. This is another step in the criminal justice system toward protecting the rights of defendants. 

If you or a loved one is charged with attempted murder, or any other crime, contact criminal defense attorney, Alissa D. Hascup. She is committing to ensuring you receive the best possible outcome for your case. Contact her office for a free consultation about your case. She is available 24/7 at 862-257-1200.