Some of our clients ask about the details of a Mapp/Dunaway/Huntley Hearing. Below, we’ve compiled an overview of what the mean for those who are charged with a DWI in New York State. If you have questions on your potential legal charges you’re facing, give us a call anytime for a free consultation.
A Mapp Hearing deals with the admissibility of physical evidence obtained by the police as a result of an illegal search. When there is a violation of the defendant’s constitutional rights regarding the seizure of the defendant’s physical evidence, the evidence may be suppressed.
The name of the hearing comes from a famous court case. In Mapp v Ohio, the United States Supreme Court established, as a rule of federal constitutional law, that all evidence obtained through violations of the federal constitutional provision against unreasonable searches and seizures is inadmissible in state criminal trials and in federal criminal trials.
A violation of the Mapp rule may be grounds for reversing a DWI conviction. In deciding whether the erroneous admission of evidence obtained through an unreasonable search or seizure warrants the reversal of a conviction, the courts have often devoted attention to (1) the amount of illegally obtained evidence in comparison with the other evidence of the defendant’s guilt, and (2) the nature of the illegally obtained evidence. Where the evidence obtained through an unreasonable search or seizure has constituted the sole or primary basis for a conviction, the courts have generally held that a reversal of a conviction is necessary. On the other hand, where the other evidence of the defendant’s guilt has been overwhelming, it has been held that the erroneous admission of evidence obtained through an illegal search only constituted harmless error and the courts have generally refused to suppress the evidence.
Many courts have held that that a reversal of a conviction is warranted where such evidence is inherently inflammatory to the defendant or highly damaging to the defendant. Blood tests, breath tests, and urine tests provide direct evidence to support a conviction for DWI. Under the rule in Mapp, this evidence can be excluded if it is proved that the test in question was taken in violation of the defendant’s rights, such as taken pursuant to an invalid stop, an unlawful arrest, or in violation of the defendant’s right to counsel.
There are two other types of suppression hearings that may be held in conjunction with a Mapp hearing that are relevant in DWI cases. One of these is a Huntley hearing. This type of hearing is based on the case of People v. Huntley. The Huntley case stood for the proposition that the defendant’s statements to police must be voluntarily made.
Under the rule in the Huntley case, there must be a hearing to determine whether statements made to the police can be suppressed whenever a DWI defendant claims his statements were involuntary or coerced. If a DWI defendant is advised of his rights and waives them before he makes statements to the police, there is no police misconduct and the statements may be admissible in court. However, when a DWI defendant is compelled by police to make involuntary statements, they can consult their DWI defense attorney to request a Huntley hearing to suppress the statements. A Huntley hearing is available to a DWI defendant if they (1) made statements that the prosecution intends to introduce at trial and (2) the defendant makes a court motion to suppress these statements.
A statement of a DWI defendant to the police can be illegally obtained so as to require a Huntley hearing if it was made in violation of the defendant’s 4th, 5th or 6th Amendment rights, if it was the result of improper coercion by the police, if it was the product of an unlawful arrest or detention by the police, if it was obtained in violation of the defendant’s Miranda rights, or if it was obtained in violation of the defendant’s right to counsel. In general, a Huntley hearing is held to determine whether a DWI defendant’s statements to the police were lawfully made under the 5th Amendment and whether there was probable cause for the underlying arrest or detention of the defendant.
The other type of suppression hearing which may be held in conjunction with a Mapp hearing in a DWI case is a Dunaway hearing. This type of hearing is based on the case of Dunaway v. State of New York. The Dunaway case determined that custodial questioning based on less than probable cause for arrest violates the Fourth Amendment. A Dunaway hearing is sought in order to determine whether evidence obtained by the police that is the fruit of an unlawful arrest without probable cause may be suppressed. For example, in a DWI case, if a suspect makes statements to police about drinking alcohol during an initial stop but later an unlawful arrest was made, the defendant may request that the statements be suppressed at a Dunaway hearing. If the evidence about the defendant’s statements to the police is suppressed, the prosecutor will not be able to introduce the evidence while presenting his or her direct case during the DWI trial.
The attorneys at the law firm of Nave DWI Defense Attorneys are experienced in handling DWI cases. If you need a lawyer who can help you obtain the best possible outcome in your DWI case, call the law firm of Nave DWI Defense Attorneys.
The exclusive purpose of this article is educational and it is not intended as either legal advice or a general solution to any specific legal problem. Corporate offices for Nave DWI Defense Attorneys are located at 432 N. Franklin Street, Suite 80, Syracuse, NY 13204; Telephone No.: (315) 473-0899. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Attorney Advertising.