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Deli Robber’s Conviction Upheld, as State Presented Sufficient Evidence to Establish Requisite Guilt

In a criminal law matter, the Appellate Court of Connecticut held that the State presented sufficient evidence to convict the defendant of charges arising from the robbery of a deli.

Case Background

This case arose from an incident that occurred on February 26, 2005. The defendant wore a half mask as he entered a deli, pulled a handgun from his jacket pocket, and pointed it at the cashier while demanding money. When the cashier went to get his wallet from his coat, located behind a glass deli case, the defendant fired at him twice. Both shots missed, and the defendant escaped with a paltry $38 cash.

One month after the robbery, police presented a photographic array to the cashier, who chose the defendant but needed a recently-taken picture to be sure. Four days later, a newspaper article with a more recent picture of the defendant appeared, linking him with another robbery. The cashier promptly called police and stated the man in the newspaper photograph (the defendant) was the same man who robbed him at the deli, then made a positive identification (ID) of the defendant in a second photographic array. However, the gun used to perpetrate this crime was never recovered.

Sufficient Evidence For Robbery, Larceny, and Attempt to Commit Assault Found

The defendant was charged with a convicted of robbery in the first degree, larceny in the sixth degree, attempt to commit assault in the first degree, and carrying a pistol without a permit. On appeal, he argued that the State presented insufficient evidence identifying him as the robber. The defendant claimed that the cashier’s ID was unreliable because the perpetrator wore a mask. He cited the cashier’s initial inability to positively identify the defendant in the first photographic array and the passage of time between the incident and the second photographic array.

The Appellate Court was not convinced, citing a plethora of trial evidence upon which the jury could reasonably conclude the defendant as the robber. The cashier saw the defendant for an extended period of time in a brightly lit area at close proximity. According to testimony, the mask itself was particularly thin, allowing the cashier to see features through it, and was only a half mask, which does not cover one’s mouth, nose, forehead, eyes, and sections of hair.

Finally, in contrast to the defendant’s assertion, the cashier was “100 percent sure that the defendant was the [perpetrator]” and made an in-court identification during trial. It was up to the jury, as the arbiter of credibility, to decide what testimony to believe. Thus, this aspect of the defendant’s insufficiency of the evidence claim failed.

Sufficient Evidence for Carrying a Pistol without a Permit Found

In Connecticut, a person may not carry a pistol or revolver outside of their home or place of business without a permit to do so. A pistol or revolver that falls under this statute must have a barrel length of less than twelve inches. Without the gun itself presented into evidence, the defendant argued that the State did not sufficiently establish the length of the barrel on the firearm used in the robbery. As such, a conviction for this charge was improper.

Police recovered two spent .45 caliber shell casings and two spent bullets, the latter located behind the deli case. At trial, State experts testified that only a handful of companies create the weapons that can fire this ammunition, and “none… manufactured firearms with a barrel length of more than twelve inches capable of discharging the kind of spent casings and bullets found at the scene of the robbery.”

In addition, the cashier provided testimony that the firearm was pulled from a jacket pocket and held with just one hand, facts from which inferences are permitted that would suggest the barrel is only twelve inches or less in length. Therefore, the Appellate Court found that the jury could reasonably infer that all elements of the carrying without a permit charge were supported by sufficient evidence.

Written by Lindsay E. Raber, Esq.

When faced with a charge of larceny, burglary, robbery, or attempt, an individual is best served by consulting with an experienced criminal law practitioner. Should you have any questions regarding criminal defense, please do not hesitate to contact Attorney Joseph C. Maya in the firm’s Westport office in Fairfield County at 203-221-3100 or at JMaya@Mayalaw.com.

Jury Reasonably Inferred Defendant Intended to Sell Cocaine He Constructively Possessed (PWID)

In a criminal law matter, the Appellate Court of Connecticut found that the State provided sufficient evidence to convict a defendant of possession of narcotics with intent to sell (PWID).

The Case

At 2am on October 19, 2004, a Norwalk police officer observed a vehicle near a business that reported problems with trespassing and the presence of narcotics transactions. After following this vehicle, the officer saw another one in the business’ parking lot, so he initiated a traffic stop of the second vehicle and radioed for assistance. The car had three occupants including the defendant, who was located behind the front-seat passenger. All appeared nervous, and the driver claimed the defendant was his uncle and they were there picking him up. When the officer went to run a check on the driver, the defendant changed his position to behind the driver’s seat.

After backup arrived, the officers placed the occupants under arrest for trespass. However, as the defendant exited the car, officers observed forty-three knotted bags and envelopes with cocaine, a small bag of marijuana, and $15 cash in plain view on the floor behind the front passenger seat. A search of the vehicle produced another bag of marijuana, a cell phone, and $640 in small denominations. No drugs or paraphernalia were found on the defendant, though after being transported to the police station, he provided a false name.

The Defendant’s Charges

The defendant was charged with PWID (cocaine), a violation of Connecticut General Statutes § 21a-227(a), as well as other crimes. At trial, State witnesses testified that the cocaine was packaged in a manner consistent with sales and the defendant was located in a known high drug activity area with no paraphernalia located on him indicating personal use. In addition, the presence of a cell phone and cash in small denominations is common in situations involving drug sales. At the close of State’s evidence, defense counsel moved for a judgment of acquittal, which was denied.

The jury returned guilty verdicts and the defendant renewed his motion, which was again denied. On appeal, he argued in part that the court improperly denied his motion for a judgment of acquittal because the State failed to provide sufficient evidence that he possessed the cocaine and that he intended to sell it.

To convict a defendant for PWID, the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he “knew the character of the substance, knew of its presence and exercised dominion and control over it.” However, where the defendant does not have exclusive possession of the premises containing the drugs, the State must proceed on a theory of constructive possession, or possession without direct physical contact. Knowledge of the substance cannot be inferred without a showing of incriminating statements and other circumstances. Intent to sell, the second element, may be proven by the manner in which the narcotics are packaged, the defendant’s presence in a known drug trafficking area, and the absence of drug paraphernalia indicating personal use of the substance.

The Decision

In this case, the Appellate Court found that the jury could reasonably infer that the defendant constructively possessed the cocaine and intended to sell it. The Court specifically cited such behavior as the defendant’s movement in the car to distance himself from the narcotics, easy access to the narcotics, and his close proximity indicating he had knowledge of its narcotic character because “[i]t is by now common knowledge that cocaine is often packaged as a white powder in small plastic bags.”

This form of packaging, in conjunction with the defendant’s presence in a known drug trafficking area and the fact police found no drug paraphernalia on his person, allowed a jury to reasonably infer the defendant intended to sell the cocaine. Therefore, the defendant’s sufficiency of the evidence claim failed.

Written by Lindsay E. Raber, Esq.

When faced with a charge for possession or distribution of controlled substances, an individual is best served by consulting with an experienced criminal law practitioner. Should you have any questions regarding criminal defense, please do not hesitate to contact Attorney Joseph C. Maya in the firm’s Westport office in Fairfield County at 203-211-3100 or at JMaya@Mayalaw.com.

Defendant’s Actions Evidenced Specific Intent Required for Kidnapping Charge

In an opinion issued in early 2012, the Appellate Court of Connecticut found the State met its burden of establishing that a kidnapping victim’s liberty was intentionally prevented by the defendant’s conduct.

The Case

This case arose from an incident that occurred on November 4, 2007. The defendant twice entered the victim’s residence in search of his girlfriend. On the second entry, he forced his way in, placed a handgun to the victim’s stomach, and threatened to kill her. The victim insisted the girlfriend was not present, but the defendant demanded she sit on the couch as he unsuccessfully searched the apartment for the girlfriend. Police subsequently located the defendant and placed him under arrest.

The defendant faced numerous charges, including kidnapping in the second degree with a firearm in violation of Connecticut General Statutes § 53a-94a(a). He was convicted on all counts and received a lengthy sentence. On appeal, he argued in part that the State did not meet their burden of establishing, beyond a reasonable doubt, that he possessed the intent to deprive the victim of her freedom and liberty.

Establishing a Second-Degree Kidnapping Conviction

To be convicted of second-degree kidnapping with a firearm, the defendant must first abduct another person, or intend to prevent that person’s liberation. This is accomplished either through the use or threatened use of physical force or intimidation, or holding the person at a place where he is not likely to be found. Once the abduction occurs, the perpetrator “uses or is armed with and threatens the use or uses or displays or represents by his words or conduct that he possesses a pistol, revolver, machine gun, shotgun, rifle or firearm.”

Intent is often proven through circumstantial evidence: unless you are a mind reader, knowing what a person is thinking or intending at any point in time is nearly impossible. Thus, “intent may be inferred from the events leading up to, and immediately following, the conduct in question… the accused’s physical acts and the general surrounding circumstances.” The words used by a defendant may also serve as direct evidence of intent.

In this case, at the time the defendant ordered the victim to sit on the couch, there remained an “implicit threat” stemming from the previous threat against the victim’s life. Therefore, the Appellate Court concluded that the jury could reasonably “infer from the defendant’s conduct that he possessed the requisite specific intent to prevent the victim’s liberation.”

Written by Lindsay E. Raber, Esq.

When faced with a charge of kidnapping or unlawful restraint, an individual is best served by consulting with an experienced criminal law practitioner. Should you have any questions regarding criminal defense, please do not hesitate to contact Attorney Joseph C. Maya in the firm’s Westport office in Fairfield County at 203-221-3100 or at JMaya@Mayalaw.com.

Attorney Did Not Ineffectively Represent Her Non-Citizen Client, Despite Failing to Seek Plea Agreement That Would Avoid Deportation

In a criminal law matter, a Superior Court of Connecticut denied a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, because the petitioner’s claims of ineffective assistance of counsel were unpersuasive.

Case Background

In this case, the petitioner, a legal resident of the U.S., was charged with larceny in the first degree and possession of narcotics. Trial counsel discussed the possibility of participation in the Connecticut Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission (CADAC) program, which upon successful completion would result both in dropped charges and avoiding deportation. However, the petitioner did not want to undergo drug addiction treatment, so this option was not pursued.

Defendant Unable to Escape Deportation

Trial counsel was extremely knowledgeable about the immigration consequences of non-citizen defendant convictions. As such, she made it a part of her regular practice to thoroughly discuss such with her clients. The State presented the petitioner with a plea agreement that would result in no jail time.

While trial counsel told her client that the deal was good for that reason, because of the petitioner’s legal status and the nature of the charges, accepting the plea would subject the defendant to mandatory deportation. She did not attempt to provide an alternative agreement or counteroffer that would avoid deportation, nor did she discuss such possibilities with the petitioner. Thus, the petitioner accepted the State’s terms, and during the plea canvass, he responded that he understood the possible immigration consequences of the plea.

The petitioner was given a suspended sentence, but violated his probation with another drug offense. New defense counsel unsuccessfully attempted to negotiate terms that would avoid deportation, and the petitioner came to the attention of immigration authorities once he was incarcerated. He filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus claiming ineffective assistance of trial counsel because counsel did not properly investigate the petitioner’s legal status and risk of deportation; he was not properly advised regarding the risk of deportation; and counsel did not include his immigration status and deportation risk as part of the plea bargaining process.

The Court’s Verdict

When a court considers an ineffective assistance claim, it applies a two-part test from Strickland v. Washington: deficient performance and prejudice to the outcome of the case. A habeas petition can be denied on either ground. In this case, the Superior Court did not believe that trial counsel’s conduct was deficient. It credited the extent of her background and training in immigration matters, and found that she properly advised her client on the consequences of accepting the plea agreement.

The Court further noted the petitioner’s unwillingness to participate in the CADAC program, which “demonstrates that the petitioner was not concerned with the possible immigration consequences of his situation.” Further evidence of the petitioner’s understanding is found in the plea canvass, where the trial court specifically asked whether he knew the consequences of pleading guilty, to which he responded “yes.” Finally, that trial counsel did not present an alternative plea or counteroffer is not a duty imposed on attorneys in this State in the context of ineffective assistance of counsel. Therefore, the Superior Court denied the habeas petition.

Written by Lindsay E. Raber, Esq.

Should you have any questions regarding criminal defense, please do not hesitate to contact Attorney Joseph C. Maya in the firm’s Westport office in Fairfield County at 203-221-3100 or at JMaya@Mayalaw.com.

State Supplied Sufficient Evidence for Jury to Infer Defendant Knew About Child’s Injury but Failed to Act

In a criminal law matter, the Supreme Court of Connecticut reversed the Appellate Court’s finding, ruling that the State provided sufficient evidence to convict the defendant for risk of injury to a minor child.

Case Background

This case arose from an incident that occurred on January 12, 2003. A mother, U, got ready for a birthday party but forgot to turn off her hair straightener before leaving at 11:30pm. She left her four-month-old child (the victim) in the defendant’s care. U returned at 1:15am and sat with her older son in the living room until 3:30am, during which time she did not hear the victim cry.

When U then began to play with the victim, she saw that the child’s left hand was “extremely swollen and had formed a large blister” and promptly called 911. The defendant and U both told responding officers that the victim’s hand was not injured before U left earlier that night, and the defendant acknowledged that while he had been with the victim all night, he did not know what caused the injury.

The defendant was charged with risk of injury to a child “for his willful delay in seeking medical attention for the victim” in violation of Connecticut General Statutes § 53-21(a)(1). At trial, the treating physician testified that the victim would have “screamed bloody murder” when burned; likewise, the child’s pediatrician testified the screaming would have lasted up to fifteen minutes. Because U did not hear the victim crying when she returned, the State argued that the child suffered the injury sometime between 11:30pm and 1:15am – at least two hours forty-five minutes before 911 was notified.

Appellate Court Ruling

A jury found the defendant guilty, but on appeal the conviction was reversed. In reviewing the defendant’s insufficiency of the evidence claim, the Appellate Court found that the State failed to provide direct evidence on the age of the injury. As such, the jury’s inference that the defendant was aware of the burn was “too speculative” to support a finding of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. On appeal, the State argued that the Appellate Court failed to consider circumstantial evidence in the light most favorable to sustaining the verdict.

To secure a conviction under the “situation prong” of § 53-21(a)(1), the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant “willfully or unlawfully caused or permitted a [minor] child to be placed in a situation where… the health of the child was likely to be injured…” If a defendant was under a legal duty to act and his failure to act “cause[d] a dangerous situation to exist or continue,” this may be sufficient evidence for conviction under the statute. Thus, a defendant may act willfully where he became aware of the victim’s injury but thereafter purposefully delayed seeking medical attention.

Supreme Court of Connecticut Ruling

In this case, the Supreme Court agreed that there was substantial circumstantial evidence supporting the jury’s inferences that the injury occurred while U was not home, and that the defendant was aware of the injury’s severity. At the time the victim was injured, the defendant would have heard the screaming and seen that the child’s hand was “grotesquely charred and blistered.” Therefore, the Court held that the Appellate Court erred in concluding there was insufficient evidence supporting the verdict and reversed judgment.

Written by Lindsay E. Raber, Esq.


When faced with a charge of risk of injury to a child or reckless endangerment, an individual is best served by consulting with an experienced criminal law practitioner. Should you have any questions regarding criminal defense, please do not hesitate to contact Attorney Joseph C. Maya in the firm’s Westport office in Fairfield County at 203-221-3100 or at JMaya@Mayalaw.com.

Assault Convict “A Danger to Society;” Sentence Modification Not Warranted

In a criminal law matter, the Sentence Revision Division of the Superior Court of Connecticut (Division) declined to modify a defendant’s lengthy sentence after he was convicted of first-degree assault, as it was neither inappropriate nor disproportionate.

The Case and the Charges

In this case, the petitioner was operating a car, with a sawed off shotgun in plain view, when a marked police cruiser initiated a valid traffic stop. Two foot patrol officers were nearby and provided backup, but the petitioner sped away to a nearby, confined property. As the petitioner attempted to escape the area, he “struck one of the officers on foot with the car [causing a serious physical injury] and drove it at the other without hitting him.”

The petitioner was subsequently arrested and charged with attempted assault in the first degree, assault on a peace officer, attempted assault on a peace officer, and possession of a sawed off shotgun. He was convicted on all counts and sentenced to a total effective sentence of forty years incarceration. The petitioner sought downward modification of his sentence, arguing it was inappropriate and disproportionate: “he claim[ed] that had no intent to hurt anyone, that he was raised in a crime ridden neighborhood and that he was under the influence of drugs at the time of the incident.”

The Court’s Decision

In opposing modification, the State argued that the jury convicted the petitioner of assault in the first degree, which requires “the specific intent to do serious physical injury to the victim by use of a dangerous instrument.” It further pointed out that at the time of the incident, the petitioner was participating in a gang initiation, had multiple felony convictions as well as a limited work history, and had been involved with illegal drug activity since he was in his teens.

When the Division reviews a sentence, it is without authority to modify unless the sentence is “inappropriate or disproportionate” in light of such factors as the nature of the offense and the character of the offender.  Taking into account the State’s arguments, the Division found no merit to the petitioner’s claim, and characterized him as “a danger to society.” Therefore, it affirmed the sentence as both appropriate and proportionate.

Written by Lindsay E. Raber, Esq.

Should you have any questions regarding criminal defense, please do not hesitate to contact Attorney Joseph C. Maya in the firm’s Westport office in Fairfield County at 203-221-3100 or at JMaya@Mayalaw.com.

Defendant’s Dual-Conviction Violated Double Jeopardy Protections

According to a previous article, a criminal defendant was unsuccessful on his claim that the State provided insufficient evidence to convict him of assault of a peace officer. However, he claim that his convictions for both that crime and interfering with an officer constituted a double jeopardy violation.

The defendant was found guilty on one count each assault of a peace officer and interfering with an officer, in violation of Connecticut General Statutes §§ 53a-167c(a)(1) and 53a-167a(a), respectively. In his appeal, the defendant argued that a conviction for both violated his constitutional protections against double jeopardy under state and federal law.

The Double Jeopardy Clause

Under the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, criminal defendants cannot receive two punishments for two crimes, which he asserts to be a single crime, arising from the same transaction and prosecuted in a single trial. To be entitled to this protection, a criminal defendant must show that the charges arise from the same act or transaction and that the charged crimes are, in fact, the same offense. If, however, the court determines that each charge requires proof of an element that the other does not, double jeopardy is typically not implicated.

In this case, the Appellate Court agreed that the double jeopardy clause prohibited conviction for both assault of a peace officer and interfering with an officer. When one looks to the statutory language of each, the latter offense does not contain any criminal elements not also found in the latter offense. The State did not argue the merits of the defendant’s claim. It simply conceded that it expected the Court would vacate the sentence on the second count and combine it with the first, a course of action the Court indeed follow. With respect to the remainder of the defendant’s appeal, the judgment was affirmed.

Written by Lindsay E. Raber, Esq.

When faced with a charge of assault of a peace officer or interfering with an officer, an individual is best served by consulting with an experienced criminal law practitioner. Should you have any questions regarding criminal defense, please do not hesitate to contact Attorney Joseph C. Maya in the firm’s Westport office in Fairfield County at 203-221-3100 or at JMaya@Mayalaw.com.

Requisite Intent for Assaulting an Officer is to Prevent Performance of Duties, Not to Cause Injury

In a criminal law matter, the Appellate Court of Connecticut declined to reverse a defendant’s conviction for assault of a peace officer because there was sufficient evidence for a jury to return a guilty verdict.

The Case

This case arose from an incident that occurred at 1:00am on January 13, 2006, in Norwalk. The defendant was engaged in a high-speed chase with police when he lost control of his vehicle and crashed into a guardrail. He attempted to flee from the scene when an officer tackled him from behind, causing both to fall to the ground.

The defendant “violently fought bad kicked [the officer],” who attempted numerous times to subdue the defendant with his Taser gun. Only when other officers arrived was the defendant successfully handcuffed and placed under arrest. Afterwards, the officer realized that he had “bloodied both knees … [and] had an ankle injury which required doctor’s attention.” In addition, the officer suffered a tear to his Achilles tendon that required him to file a worker’s compensation claim and take several days off from work.

Assault of a Peace Officer Charge

The defendant was charged for numerous offenses, including assault of a peace officer in violation of Connecticut General Statutes § 35a-167c(a)(1). On appeal, the defendant argued, in part, that the evidence offered by the State was insufficient to convict him. Specifically, he claimed that the State failed to show that he had the requisite specific intent to injure the officer, and that the officer was injured by the defendant’s actions.

To secure a conviction for assault of a peace officer, the State must offer proof establishing, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant “with intent to prevent a reasonably identifiable peace officer… from performing his or her duties, and while such peace officer… is acting in the performance of his duties… causes physical injury to such peace officer.” However, the intent required is to prevent the performance of duties, not the intent to cause injury.

The Decision

In this case, the Appellate Court found that a jury could reasonably find that the defendant committed the offense. It noted there was sufficient evidence presented to the jury that “the defendant had the requisite intent to prevent [the officer] from performing his duties, and the defendant’s actions were a proximate cause of the [officer’s] injuries.” Therefore, the defendant’s insufficiency of the evidence claim was rejected.

Written by Lindsay E. Raber, Esq.


When faced with a charge of interfering with a police officer or assault of a peace officer, an individual is best served by consulting with an experienced criminal law practitioner. Should you have any questions regarding criminal defense, please do not hesitate to contact Attorney Joseph C. Maya in the firm’s Westport office in Fairfield County at 203-221-3100 or at JMaya@Mayalaw.com.

Defendant Could Not “Claim Surprise” By Kidnapping Arrest and Conviction; Statute Not Unconstitutionally Vague

A previous article on this website described how the defendant failed to convince the Appellate Court that the State did not prove he intentionally prevented a kidnapping victim’s liberation. Another aspect of his appeal concerned whether or not the kidnapping statute, as applied to the facts of his case, met the standards for unconstitutional vagueness.

What is a “Void for Vagueness” Challenge?

The essence of a “void for vagueness” challenge is that a person must have fair warning regarding what conduct constitutes a violation of a statute and the guarantee that the statute will not be applied arbitrarily by law enforcement officials. Thus, for a defendant to prevail on this claim, he must show beyond a reasonable doubt either that he had inadequate notice of what conduct was prohibited or was subject to arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement.

The Supreme Court of Connecticut has previously conceded that there are rare cases where a conviction for kidnapping “would constitute an absurd and unconscionable result because of the limited duration of the confinement or the slight degree of restriction in movement.” At the same time, however, there is no bright-line rule outlining the minimum time or distance requirements constituting a restraint. This concept, in conjunction with the statutory prohibition on restraint as outlined in § 53a-94a, ultimately defeated the defendant’s claim.

The Court’s Ruling

The Appellate Court acknowledged that the restraint in this case was brief, but due to the defendant’s evidenced intent to prevent the victim from leaving, he could not claim that he did not know that his actions were criminal. As the Court emphasized, he “cannot claim surprise that he would be arrested, prosecuted and convicted of the crime of kidnapping.”

Furthermore, the defendant presented no evidence that at the time of the incident he was acting on a good faith reliance that his conduct was lawful, or “that a person of ordinary intelligence would have no reason to know that he was engaging in prohibited conduct.” Therefore, the Court rejected the defendant’s claim that § 53a-94a was unconstitutionally vague as it applied to these facts.

Written by Lindsay E. Raber, Esq.

When faced with a charge of kidnapping or unlawful restraint, an individual is best served by consulting with an experienced criminal law practitioner. Should you have any questions regarding criminal defense, please do not hesitate to contact Attorney Joseph C. Maya in the firm’s Westport office in Fairfield County at 203-221-3100 or at JMaya@Mayalaw.com.

Customized Miranda Warnings Given to Sophisticated Defendant Conveyed the “Essential Message”

In a criminal law matter, the Appellate Court of Connecticut found that a trial court properly denied a defendant’s motion to suppress evidence, because an officer’s recitation of the Miranda warnings adequately apprised him of his rights.

The Case

This case arose from an incident that occurred on September 15, 2007, in Stamford. The defendant repeatedly struck a victim in the head using an aluminum baseball bat. The victim suffered life-threatening injuries but survived. The defendant fled to North Carolina, where he was apprehended and returned to Connecticut with two Stamford police officers. During this trip, the defendant made incriminating statements he later sought to suppress.

At the suppression hearing, the officer testified that he gave the defendant the following warnings during the trip:

[H]e has the right to remain silent. Anything he says can and will be used against him in a court of law. He has the right to an attorney. If he cannot afford one, the court will appoint him one. He has the right to stop answering questions at any time. He has the right to invoke his privilege to an attorney at any time. He has the right to not answer specific questions, if he wants to pick and choose the questions he wants to answer.

The officer explained that he prefers to go “above and beyond” the Miranda requirements with added explanations. He asked the defendant whether he understood the warnings, to which the defendant replied, “I know them, I know them, I know them.” The officer testified that at this time, the defendant waived his rights and wished to speak with them.

The Miranda Warnings

The court denied the motion to suppress, noting that the defendant, who had numerous previous arrests, “is very sophisticated, very intelligent and seems to understand a great deal [about] the legal process.” It found that the defendant was “a seasoned individual who understands what Miranda rights are about.” After a jury trial, the defendant was convicted of assault in the first degree in violation of Connecticut General Statutes § 53a-59(a)(1).  On appeal, he claimed the officer’s recitation of Miranda was inadequate, thus the trial court erred in denying his motion. He did not contest how the trial court characterized him.

In the landmark ruling of Miranda v. Arizona, the U.S. Supreme Court recognized the indispensability of counsel at the time of custodial interrogation. The Miranda warnings make sure that a defendant understands his or her constitutional rights, and if police engage the defendant in questioning without reciting these rights, the defendant’s statements may be suppressed. Thus, when a reviewing court considers the adequacy of Miranda warnings, it simply asks “whether the warnings reasonably conve[y] to [a suspect] his rights as required by Miranda.”

The Court’s Ruling

In this case, the Appellate Court ruled that the officer’s warnings were adequate because they “communicated the same essential message” as required under Miranda. The Court highlighted the defendant’s familiarity with these rights, as evidenced by the trial court’s characterization and his repeated acknowledgement to the officer. “The essential purpose of Miranda warnings is to provide a criminal suspect with the informed choice either to exercise his [f]ifth and [s]ixth [a]mendment rights or to waive them.” Here, the Court stated that aim was accomplished. Therefore, the trial court did not err in denying the motion to suppress evidence.

Written by Lindsay E. Raber, Esq.


Should you have any questions regarding criminal defense, please do not hesitate to contact Attorney Joseph C. Maya in the firm’s Westport office in Fairfield County at 203-221-3100 or at JMaya@Mayalaw.com.