Child Molesters & Miranda Warnings

New Jersey Child Molestation Attorney – Anthony N. Palumbo
The New Jersey Supreme Court recently held that police were not required to repeat Miranda rights to a child molester during the custodial interrogation which resulted in his arrest.  In the child molestation case, the man went to the police station under the impression that his uncle was under investigation for child molestation.  The police read the man his Miranda rights then questioned him.  Later, the police informed him that he was also a suspect in the investigation, and could possibly be facing molestation charges.  The definition of child molestation is a crime involving sexual relations between an adult and a minor child who is usually less than 14 years of age.  And a conviction of this crime results in lifelong legal consequences.  In the case described above, the accused was ultimately convicted and sentenced to 18 years in prison.  The lower court found that the police should have re-stated the man’s Miranda rights once he became a suspect, and that since the rights were not re-stated, any statements made by the man after he became a suspect could not be used at trial.  While the suspect entertained an avid criminal defense, the New Jersey Supreme Court reversed the lower court ruling in a unanimous decision.  While this decision may seem like the law is depriving sex offenders of their constitutional rights, the decision does not actually have anything to do with child molestation law.

Last February, the New Jersey court ruled that when an individual is Mirandized and questioned as a witness, but later becomes a suspect, the police are not required to re-state his Miranda rights in accordance with the 5th Amendment.  State v. Nyhammer.  Thus, it is irrelevant that the man in this case was a sex offender because the same rule would have applied if he had committed another crime and his status changed from witness to suspect.  Miranda rights are those rights read by the police when you are arrested.  If you have ever watched Law & Order you have probably heard detective Elliot Stabler or detective Olivia Bensen read these rights on TV.  “You have the right to remain silent.  Anything you say or do can be used against you in a court of law…”  What these rights actually require is that before a person is questioned, that person must be warned that he does not have to say anything to the police, and he can request an attorney.  If he requests an attorney, no more questions can be asked until the attorney arrives.  If questions are asked, the answers will not be allowed at trial.  A person can also waive the Miranda right and choose to speak to the police, but if at any time he asks for an attorney, the questioning must end until an attorney arrives.  Thus, it is important to always ask for an attorney and refrain from answering police questions, not matter how tempting.
For more information on Crimes against Children in Union County, visit my website Anthony N. Palumbo, New Jersey Criminal Defense Lawyer at www.palumbo-renaud.com.