You have the right to remain silent.  Many feel that this is so that they don’t incriminate themselves when talking to law enforcement after a crime may have been committed, which is accurate.  However, I feel that, even when innocent, you should remain silent.  This article is designed to show you why.  If you are charged with a crime and need a zealous criminal defense team, please contact us to help ensure your freedom.

When you meet an overzealous police officer and prosecutor, their actions may feel like they’re looking for a conviction, not looking for the “truth” or solving the crime justly.  I don’t believe this to be intentional; however, there are pressures on solving these terrible crimes, and they are human and make assumptions.  But like many of the assumptions we make, we may be wrong.  However, when our assumptions are wrong, it doesn’t ruin someone’s life.  Prosecutors may do just that if they’re not doing their due diligence.

Even when innocent, your right to remain silent is important, and you should use it

Let’s look at just a few high profile examples:

Richard Jewell. 

Richard Jewell, whose name was thrust back into the spotlight after the 2019 movie, Richard Jewell, saved the lives of people during a bombing at the 1996 Centennial Olympic Park.  While working as a security guard for AT&T, he discovered a backpack that contained three pipe bombs.  Jewell alerted police and helped evacuate the area before the bomb exploded, saving many people from injury or death.  Jewell was initially hailed as a hero but later became a suspect, before ultimately being cleared when Eric Rudolph was found to be the bomber.  Despite never being charged, Jewell underwent a “jury by media,” which took a toll on his and his mother’s personal and professional life, resulting in his premature death at 44 years old.

The Central Park Five.

This is the criminal case based on the assault and rape of a 28-year-old woman.  As chronicled in the Netflix mini-series, When They See Us, five children between the ages of 14-16 were wrongfully convicted and then incarcerated for 5-10 years.  All five confessed to the crime after being interrogated for hours without lawyers, and according to them, deprived of food and sleep. They were convicted despite giving accounts that were inconsistent with each other and with the crime scene, and there was no supporting DNA evidence.  They were convicted based on false, coerced confessions, which we know now because someone else came forward and confessed to the crime.

Nga Trong.

In 2008, 16-year-old Nga Truong confessed to killing her 13-month old infant in Massachusetts. The American-Vietnamese teenager had phoned emergency services after her baby had stopped breathing, and one-and-a-half hours later, a doctor pronounced him dead.  The officer who questioned Truong in a confined room made accusatory statements, lied about the evidence and offered false promises.

In a video of the confession, obtained by American public radio station WBUR, the police said that Truong would be given a more lenient punishment if she confessed and that she and her brothers could be put into a better living situation. At the time, she lived in an apartment with her boyfriend, mother, and siblings.  The police also referenced an incident when Truong was eight years old and her mother had left her to look after her baby brother, who died from sudden infant death syndrome under her watch.  A judge watched the tape and ruled that the confession was coerced and Truong was released – after almost three years in jail.

Henry McCollum and Leon Brown.

Henry McCollum and his half-brother, Leon Brown, were convicted in 1984 for the rape and murder of an 11-year-old girl in North Carolina after both teenagers confessed to the crime. They were 19 and 15 at the time, and both had intellectual disabilities. Both soon recanted, saying they were coerced, but to no avail. Brown was eventually sentenced to life in prison, while McCollum spent 30 years on death row. They were exonerated on DNA evidence in 2014 and later given pardons of innocence.

Why would people admit to committing a heinous crime?  

Of all the convicted people who have been exonerated by DNA testing, almost 30 percent confessed to crimes they didn’t commit, according to the nonprofit legal rights group, The Innocence Project.   Saul Kassin, Ph.D., considered to be a false confession expert, found that vulnerable suspects, including teenagers, people with intellectual impairments, and those with mental illness, are more likely to make false confessions, especially if they are under pressure from interrogators. Police are permitted to lie about evidence and imply promises and threats through subtle but lawful tactics.[1]

Many police and prosecutors are in their line of work for the right reasons, but there are some that look only to “win” a case. You have the right to remain silent, and whether you are guilty or innocent; you should take full advantage of this right.

*This article is written by Sean Kelsey, Chief Operating Officer, a non-attorney with Nave Law Firm.  No information should be construed as legal information and is the opinion of Sean Kelsey if you have questions please contact SKelsey@naveteam.com

 

[1] A bill, S6806,l is currently being considered by the New York State Senate on whether police officers can continue to use these deceptive practices to obtain confessions.

 
 

related articles

Nave Law wins suit against City of Albany to protect Reverend’s civil rights.

 

As part of Nave Law Firm’s efforts to give back to the communities we practice in, our own Derek Andrews took action after reading a Times Union article about a local woman’s plight against a local government who stonewalled her efforts to obtain body camera recordings of an incident that involved her.

 

In 2019, uniformed members of the Albany Police Department wearing body cameras forcibly removed Reverend Cheryl Hawkins, a street-reach minister in the New York Capital District, from a public park as she preached and sang Christian hymns, for which she had received a special event permit from the City of Albany. That removal violated her constitutionally-guaranteed rights to free expression. As part of a lawsuit, her civil rights attorney requested those body camera recordings from the city through New York’s Freedom of Information Law but was rebuffed, having been told that they were protected and confidential because of Civil Rights Law Section 50-a.

 

Mr. Andrews helped both Ms. Hawkins and her civil rights attorney by filing an Article 78 special proceeding, a type of lawsuit, against the City of Albany and the Albany Police Department, claiming that they violated Ms. Hawkins’ right to free access to body camera recordings of that incident.

 

Although the city produced those recordings before the conclusion of the lawsuit, Judge David Weinstein of the Albany County Supreme Court agreed with Mr. Andrews’ arguments when he issued a decision at the end of 2020 stating that Ms. Hawkins had substantially prevailed and that the city was unreasonable in originally denying her access. That last part meant that the city Times Union Article, which resulted in a five-figure settlement. Ms. Hawkins will now continue her lawsuit against Albany for violating her civil rights.

 

When asked for comment by Reverand Hawkins, she responded:

“Mr. Andrews saw the Times-Union Newspaper Front Page Huge Article (February 17, 2020). He then contacted my attorney and wanted to see how he could help.  He felt that I was facing an injustice.  I was already paying another lawyer big money to represent me, and I could not afford a second law firm.  Derek then spoke with the leadership team with Nave Law Firm, and the team decided to take the case at no cost to me.  

I was so grateful that he believed in me enough to advocate for me and cared enough to help me at no cost.

The best part is that he WON THE CASE; he even won the city’s and the cop’s appeal filed in Albany County after winning the case.”

 

Nave Law Firm is grateful for the opportunity to have assisted Ms. Hawkins in her pursuit of justice.

 

 

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Decriminalizing Possession of Hard Drugs

Oregon seems to be leading the way in the war . . . on the war on drugs while New York falls further behind. In a more sizable margin than either Biden or Trump would secure in this election, nearly 59% of citizens in Oregon voted to decriminalize possession of small amounts of hard drugs like heroin and cocaine.

Their decision also supported greater access to treatment for those who need it, which is paid for by the tax proceeds from marijuana sales. New York took a step in the right direction when they decriminalized possession of marijuana last year, but they remain several steps behind a large swath of the country that has legalized marijuana possession outright, including our next-door neighbors. While legislators and Governor Cuomo are interested in legalization, it’s unlikely to happen in the next year or two. Here’s why the legalization of marijuana, and other drugs, is worthwhile: not only would it ameliorate years of disproportionate effects of criminal drug possession on communities of color but it would give those with addictions greater access to higher-quality treatment. It also wouldn’t hurt to make some money by taxing those “products,” which could prove to be cleaner and safer than those cut with harmful and toxic chemicals. By the way, we certainly don’t mean to imply that it should be legal to drive while impaired by a drug, whether it’s legal or illegal. Please don’t do that.

We’re only suggesting that the war on drugs was misguided and that Oregon, and other states who are following suit, are headed in the right direction. Let’s convince New York to do the same.

https://scoop.upworthy.com/oregon-becomes-first-state-decriminalize-possession-of-hard-drugs

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New York State Driver’s License Issues

After receiving notice that your New York driver’s license has been revoked or suspended, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and uncertain about how to respond. During this difficult time, it is important to remember that you have the opportunity to fight for your driving privileges. An experienced New York driver’s license attorney can support you during this process. It also helps to arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible about suspended and revoked licenses in New York State.

 

Reasons People are Summoned to Hearings in New York

Various factors might lead a person to be summoned to appear before the New York Department of Motor Vehicles for a hearing, but some of the most common reasons include:

 

  • Alcohol-related offenses like drunk driving.
  • Involvement in a deadly accident or an accident that resulted in a serious injury.
  • Refusing to submit to a breath test.
  • The accumulation of too many points on a person’s driver’s license.
  • Traveling at high speed.
  • Medical review.
  • Failure to pay tolls.
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol when under 21.

Suppose your license has been revoked or suspended. In that case, a skilled traffic attorney can help create a plan to get back to driving as soon as possible while also helping you address fines, points,and limiting how the event will impact your motor vehicle insurance moving forward.

 

Restricted/Conditional Licenses in New York

 

Even though license suspension is a common result of many driving-related offenses in New York, drivers are still sometimes able to obtain either conditional or restricted licenses for purposes like commuting to work or school, transporting children to daycare, attending court-required classes, and traveling to medical appointments.

 

One of New York’s driving law’s most confusing areas is the difference between conditional and restricted licenses. The Department of Motor Vehicle issues conditional licenses to qualified drivers whose New York driver’s license was suspended or revoked due to an alcohol or drug-related violation. The Department of Motor Vehicles can also issue a restricted use license to a driver who qualifies and whose license is either suspended or revoked due to violations or incidents that are not alcohol or drug-related.

 

Suppose a person in New York State has had a conditional or restricted license issued within the past five years. In that case, the Department of Motor Vehicles will sometimes issue a restricted license provided the individual’s license was not revoked for alcohol use, criminal violations, or drug use.

 

If a person has not had a conditional or restricted license issued within the last five years, the individual might be eligible to complete an Impaired Driver Program. On successful completion of this program, an individual will receive a “Notice of Completion,” which in some cases will result in a person’s license being automatically restored or a person becomes eligible to apply for a new license. Remember, however, that a person will be dropped from the program and unable to obtain a conditional license if he or she does not attend class, does not satisfactorily participate, or does not pay program fees.

 

Multiple Alcohol or Drug-Related Driving Convictions

If your license is revoked and you have three or more DWI/DWAI-Drugs/DWAI convictions on your license, the DMV may be denying your ability to get relicensed. There are specific rules about your ability to get relicensed when this occurs.

 

If you have three or four alcohol/drug-related convictions, the DMV will likely deny your ability to get relicensed for a minimum of 5 years. If you have a serious driving offense on top of the three or four alcohol-related offenses, the DMV will deny your ability to get relicensed FOR LIFE.

 

If you have five or more alcohol/drug-related convictions, the DMV will deny your ability to get relicensed FOR LIFE.

 

If your license has been revoked because of multiple convictions, a skilled traffic attorney can help create a plan so you can get back.

 

Numerous Suspensions on Your License

If your license is suspended because you failed to answer traffic infractions or pay a fine, you could be charged with a misdemeanor or even a felony the next time you get pulled over.

 

The reason for this is because every time you fail to answer a traffic infraction or fail to pay a fine, the Court will put a SCOFF, or a suspension, on your license.

 

You must speak to an attorney about your license status if you fall into this category. An experienced attorney will know how to handle and take care of the suspensions on your license so that you can drive free and clear.

 

How a New York Driver’s License Attorney can Help

Whether you need counsel at a DMV hearing, it is your first time DWI, you failed to answer a traffic infraction, or you have multiple convictions, an experienced attorney can help you get your license back.

 

Contact an Experienced Driver’s License Attorney

If you are convicted of a driver’s license offense in New York, you can end up facing some serious consequences. One of the best ways to handle these charges is to retain the assistance of an experienced attorney. Contact Nave Law Firm at 855-349-NAVE (6283) today.

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