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STATE v. HENDRICKS — NEW JERSEY MURDER TRIAL — "NOT GUILTY" VERDICT

Mr. Tumelty represented Helena Hendricks, who was charged with first degree murder in Atlantic County Superior Court. The defendant faced a number of additional charges, including armed robbery, conspiracy and possession of a handgun for an unlawful purpose. At the conclusion of a jury trial that lasted three weeks, the defendant was found "not guilty" of all charges.

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Confession and Offers of Leniency

After you have been arrested, police officers might try to encourage you to cooperate with them by asking you to provide additional information about your alleged actions. If a confession or a statement is made involuntarily, however, it cannot be used at trial. This is because of your constitutional 5th Amendment rights to avoid incriminating yourself.

Incrimination can be hard to prove in a court of law, however, especially if you have already confessed to a crime. Even if a police officer encouraged you to confess, you need to understand that unless you were under duress at the time of your confession, it will be extremely difficult to fight any charges or criminal consequences related to that confession.

If you are being placed under arrest it would serve you well to know in advance what a police officer can and cannot do as it relates to getting you to confess to a crime, as well as what your rights are in terms of speaking to an attorney or to otherwise remain silent.

The 14th amendment prohibits questioning carried out by police officers with the intent to coerce you into anything. Any confessions or admissions to crimes that are involuntary or coerced cannot be used against a defendant in a criminal case; even if the statements given under these circumstances were true. Courts require that officers tell defendants of their right to remain silent as well as to inform them of their right to attain an attorney.

Sometimes, however, even when an officer has provided a Miranda warning, they can still violate an accused person’s constitutional rights by pursuing questioning that is too unfair or too harsh. The legal standard about whether or not a confession is considered “involuntary” relies on whether or not a law enforcement officer uses behaviors that diminish or eliminate the suspect’s ability to exercise their free will.

Proving that your confession was involuntary or coerced can be a very difficult task, but if it applies to you and your case, your best option would be to speak with a skilled criminal defense attorney. The critical aspect of establishing involuntary confession is showing that an improper law enforcement tactic overcame a suspect’s free will. If you believe that the police have violated your rights by arresting you and forcing a confession, then you may be eligible to pursue this as a line of defense.

The right defense attorney can be the difference between freedom and jail time. Attorney John W. Tumelty has experience you can rely on, and is here to help you when you need it most. Contact our office today to begin discussing the details surrounding your case during an initial case consultation.

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.

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