49 N.Y.2d 218, People v. Samuels

Citation:49 N.Y.2d 218, 424 N.Y.S.2d 892
Party Name:People v. Samuels
Case Date:January 15, 1980
Court:New York Court of Appeals
 
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Page 218

49 N.Y.2d 218

424 N.Y.S.2d 892

The PEOPLE of the State of New York, Respondent,

v.

Willie M. SAMUELS, Appellant.

New York Court of Appeals

January 15, 1980.

[424 N.Y.S.2d 893] Shirley Werner, Matthew Muraskin and Michael J. Obus, Mineola, for appellant.

Denis Dillon, Dist. Atty. (William C. Donnino, Anthony J. Girese, Mineola, and Scott N. Fein, Hempstead, of counsel), for respondent.

OPINION OF THE COURT

WACHTLER, Judge.

On this appeal the defendant seeks to suppress oral and written statements which he claims were obtained in violation of his right to counsel. The question is whether a defendant can waive his rights in the absence of counsel after a felony complaint has been filed in court.

On September 4, 1975 two men robbed a store in Nassau County. Several days later the investigating officer filed a felony complaint in the District Court charging the defendant with the crime. Based on the complaint an arrest warrant was issued. On October 5, 1975 the police arrested the defendant at his mother's home. Prior to bringing the defendant before the court for arraignment, the police transported him to the local precinct "for processing". At the police station he was advised of his rights and questioned about the robbery in the absence of counsel. He made oral and written statements admitting participation in the robbery but claiming that he had been coerced into assisting the robber.

The defendant made a pretrial motion to suppress the statements on the ground that he had not been advised of his rights and had been "forced" by the police into making the statements. After a hearing the trial court found that the facts did not support these contentions. The motion was denied. Subsequently the defendant went to trial and was found guilty of the robbery.

On appeal to the Appellate Division the defendant argued that the confession should have been suppressed because it was [424 N.Y.S.2d 894] obtained in the absence of counsel after a felony complaint had been filed in court. He urged that his right to counsel attached when the felony complaint was filed and that he could not thereafter waive his rights without the assistance of counsel. The Appellate Division affirmed, without opinion.

On appeal to this court, the defendant presents the same issue argued before the Appellate Division. The prosecutor notes that this point was not raised at...

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