Precinct

NEW YORK CITY ARREST PROCESS: WRITTEN CONFESSIONS AND EXERCISING THE FIFTH AMENDMENT AT THE PRECINCT

Any arrest made by state law enforcement within the five boroughs of New York City – whether for a felony, misdemeanor or petty offense – is eventually brought to the local precinct for the processing of background information. Upon arrival, however, you may be first asked by a police officer whether you wish to make an oral and/or written statement about the incident. Against the advice of any of New York’s top criminal defense lawyers, many recently arrested persons do, without hesitation, agree to make such a statement. In other cases, a statement may be procured through promises of law enforcement – sometimes true, usually false – of leniency or release. In either scenario, the written statement will likely be offered to the prosecutors assigned to your case as a confession and its admissibility at trial could devastate potential defenses. This is not a situation you wish to occur as it will make fighting your case much more difficult. Whether or not Miranda Rights have been read or the opportunity for a phone call has been given, any decision on making a written statement should be considered in light of how it may be later used by prosecutors at trial. A moment of reflection and a phone call to a top New York criminal attorney may prevent being haunted later by decisions made earlier at the precinct.

Whether or not a statement has been made, police will ultimately ask you to provide pedigree or personal information such as name, address and date of birth. This may happen at any time after arrest, although it typically occurs after police seek to elicit a written statement about the incident. Based on our decades of experience dealing with arrests in New York City, this information is required by the NYPD to process an arrest. Unlike a request for a written statement, an officer’s request for pedigree information should generally be complied with. Affirmative refusals or making deliberate falsehoods as to name and/or current residence can only make a bad situation worse, both at the precinct and at arraignment/bail hearing. See N.Y. Penal Law § 190.23 (making it a B misdemeanor to “knowingly misrepresent … name, date of birth or address to a police officer”).

Notwithstanding pedigree information, all persons in the custody of police have the right to refuse to speak to them and, in most cases, it is generally wise to do so. Even in the absence of Miranda Warnings, statements made to either an officer or a cell mate may be overheard and may potentially be useful to prosecutors at your trial. See People v. Poette, 229 A.D.2d 796, 797 (3rd Dep’t. 1996) (noting, for the purposes of the prosecution’s use of unwarned statements made at the precinct, “police simply have no obligation to silence a talkative defendant”). Offering law enforcement as little information as possible and otherwise keeping quiet, other than to request to speak to a top New York criminal defense attorney is always a sound strategy at the precinct.

For more information on the arrest process, specifically how to handle pre-arraignment detention and the importance of retaining counsel for the bail hearing, additional articles written by our staff of New York defense attorneys may be found here.

While we cannot guarantee a particular outcome to your case, we can guarantee that retaining a lawyer during the arrest process will reduce the risk of incriminating yourself in police interrogations at the precinct. Call us at the Law Offices of Jeffrey Lichtman at (212) 581-1001 today to schedule a free consultation. See how we may help you address the consequences of yours or a loved one’s New York arrest.