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Your Constitutional Right To Counsel Can Be Delayed When Police Stall Your Arraignment.


Appeal Criminal Conviction Right To Counsel Can Be Delayed

People v Hopkins

59. N.Y.2d 1079

New York Court of Appeals

Decided on: March 30, 1983

See Also: The Difference Between The Federal Right To Counsel Rule And The New York Right To Counsel Rule

Your Constitutional Right To Counsel Can Be Delayed When Police Stall Your  Arraignment.

Summary: Police investigated the stabbing of Celene Edwards. Edwards identified Defendant Hopkins in a photo array, and he was arrested and accompanied to the Police station where he confessed to two previous murders. A jury convicted Defendant on two counts of murder, kidnapping and rape. The trial court found that beyond a reasonable doubt, that Defendant’s statements were voluntary. Defendant reserved his right to appeal and the Court of Appeals held: A. That Defendant’s pre arraignment oral and written confessions were voluntary. B. Arraignment was legitimately delayed because of Defendants confession to two unsolved murders. C. Defendant’s statements are not suppressible by reason of per se deprivation of right to counsel, when counsel was scheduled but had not yet attached. D. Defendant’s spontaneous statement was not a result of Police interrogation. The order was affirmed.

Issue: Whether a delay in arraignment causes the right to counsel to attach.

Held: No, A delay in arraignment does not cause the right to counsel to attach. such assignment of counsel did not take place until after arraignment.

Issue 2: Whether Defendant’s post arraignment statement made while in custody was the product of a un-mirandized Police interrogation.

Held: No, The confession made to a deputy sheriff while Defendant was in the County Jail was prompted by the question “How’s everything going” and the Court held that this was not an interrogation and therefore can admissible.

Issue 3: Whether Defendant’s pre arraignment statement was voluntarily after statement was made prior to the right to counsel attaching.

Held: The Court found that the statements made were voluntary and found them to be spontaneous and admissible at trial.

Facts: Defendant Hopkins was under investigation for the stabbing of Celene Edwards. He was identified by photo array and brought to the Police station where he confessed to two previous murders. A jury found him guilty of murder, kidnapping, and rape. At trial, Defendant’s pre-arraignment confessions were found, voluntary and spontaneous and were not the product of Police interrogation.

Legal Analysis: The Court of Appeals held that the pre-arraignment statements of the Defendant were not a product of Police interrogation because counsel had not yet been assigned. A delay in arraignment does not cause the right to counsel to attach. The delay in arraignment is one factor to consider on the issue of the involuntariness of Defendant’s statement, See also: When Does The Right To Counsel Attach. The unexpected voluntary confession of two murders made by Defendant was sufficient reason for postponing the originally scheduled arraignment.

Prior to arraignment, while the Defendant was incarcerated, he was asked “How’s it going?” by a guard at the county jail who was watching over him. He responded with a confession to two murders. The Court held that it is to be remembered that not all remarks uttered by law enforcement constitute impermissible interrogation. The detailed confessions of the two murders demonstrated overwhelming guilt; there is no reasonable possibility that Defendant was not guilty. The Defendant was convicted of murder in the second degree and felony-murder and kidnapping in the first degree and The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment.


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