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According to Federal and New Jersey law, before attempting to conduct a “custodial interrogation” outside the presence of a defense attorney, officers must deliver a statement in clear and unequivocal terms that the accused has a right to remain silent and be represented by an attorney, to satisfy the Miranda requirement. Recently, the murder conviction of a Newark teen was tossed out because police officers failed to give their suspect a Miranda warning.
Newark Murder Case
Zakariyya Ahmad was convicted in the killing of a cafe owner that happened in October of 2013. The police officers found Ahmad in a hospital with gunshot wounds on the day of Flagg’s killing. They began asking him questions and ordered him to the police station to issue a statement. However, when the police had Zakariyya Ahmad give a statement, which was videotaped, they did not read him his Miranda rights because they did not consider him a suspect at the time.
Physical evidence such as blood, ballistics, and surveillance footage, showed the story of a robbery gone wrong and police convicted Zakariyya Ahmad and two other teens with the killing of cafe owner Joseph Flagg. Ahmad’s gunshot wounds were caused by an accident when suspect Daryl Cline fatally shot Flagg.
In 2017, Ahmad was charged by a jury with murder, manslaughter, robbery, and several related crimes and was sentenced to 30 years in prison. Ahmad was only 17 at the time but he was tried as an adult.
The Case Goes to the Supreme Court
Then, after Ahmad’s conviction, a state defender’s office argued to the Supreme Court that when Ahmad was taken by the police in a marked police car to the station, without any say from him or his family, he was in police custody. The court agreed, ruling that Ahmad was in fact in police custody and the case should be tossed because he was not read his Miranda rights. The prosecution used Ahmad’s statement, that he was given in custody without a proper Miranda warning, as a key part of their case to paint the teen as a liar, thus causing him considerable harm.
Finally, the court decided whether or not police saw Ahmad as a victim or a suspect was irrelevant because he should have been given a Miranda warning regardless, while he was in police custody. This Tuesday, the supreme court reversed his conviction, due to the error, and ordered a new trial for his alleged killing of Joseph Flagg
Ahmad, now 24, is currently at Northern State Prison, with a parole date in 2043. Because of the high court’s decision, he will be given a new trial.
Miranda Rights Play a Pivotal Role in Criminal Case
In a situation where you are in police custody, officers are legally obligated to give you a proper Miranda warning. If officers fail to do so, and it causes you subsequent harm then your statement may not be usable in court. An experienced and knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer knows how to challenge police questioning and arrests conducted without proper Miranda warnings.
Contact an Experienced Hamilton Criminal Defense Lawyer About Your Criminal Charges in New Jersey
Were you arrested or charged with a crime in New Jersey? The consequences of a conviction could be severe, leaving you with a permanent criminal record and possibly even sending you to jail. That is why you need to speak with a qualified criminal defense attorney as soon as possible about your case. The attorneys at The Davis Law Firm, LLC have successfully represented clients charged with criminal charges in Hamilton, Trenton, Ewing, Lawrence, and throughout New Jersey. Call 609-587-9100 or fill out the online contact form to schedule a consultation with a member of our legal team. We have an office conveniently located at 2653 Nottingham Way, Hamilton Township, NJ 08619.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.