Steven Goff: A Killer’s Confession and Your Civil Rights

Pressure to make an arrest can lead authorities to press charges against the wrong man on occasion. A hasty act of that variety can delay the location of a suspect with a higher degree of probability of having committed the particular offense. In addition, it can lead to so-called “tunnel vision” where officers tend to fixate on one suspect in particular to the exclusion of all others. Fortunately, this didn’t happen in the case involving Frederick “Rickey” Hart, a 15-year-old boy who has killed 23 years ago by an unknown assailant.  Unknown that is until his apparent killer, now 41-year-old Steven Goff, confessed to the crime this week, according to Philly.com.
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The Weight of Guilt and Confessions

Reports indicate Goff traveled to the Canadian border before abruptly turning around and heading straight to Galloway Township Police. He confessed to the crime, which took place back in 1990 because he couldn’t live with the guilt of the murder any longer, according to reports.

It’s a credit to local law enforcement that they didn’t go off searching for a suspect who may have made an easier target for arrest. Instead, they chose to gather evidence and wait for a break. More than two decades later, they have their man apparently, and the family can have a measure of closure at knowing their son’s (still) alleged murderer.

Importance of Using Your Rights

Police reportedly questioned Goff days after Hart’s disappearance in 1990, but he made no admissions at that time, which was his right. The right to remain silent and answer no police questions is in effect during all manners of police interrogation. Because authorities couldn’t determine a cause of death, they had no real evidence to hold Goff or charge him with a crime and he was free to go. Of course, the guilt over what he’d done ate away at him over the years, and eventually led to his surrender and confession.

The important lesson here is to never give statements to authorities if they suspect you of committing a crime. Even if you know you’re innocent, statements you make can be used against you as evidence to detain you, or obtain search warrants to enable further evidence gathering. The last thing you want is a group of police officers searching through your home, your office, or you car while you have nothing to do but sit inside a lonely cell.
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Exercise Your Right to an Attorney

Your right to an attorney is inalienable – authorities cannot take it away from you legally. Doing so violates your civil rights, and may lead to the dismissal of any criminal charges brought against you in relation to your arrest. Always invoke your right to a defense attorney, even if it’s just a public defender, during questioning. Officers who’ve arrested you are not interested in proving your innocence. You need someone looking out for your best interests. If you’re currently facing criminal charges, including drugs or narcotics, contact our law firm immediately to protect your rights.

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Commonwealth v. "H" (DUI case)

Client was charged with three separate DUI cases calling for mandatory minimum imprisonment of 90 days on each case. Client was advised to seek immediate intensive alcohol counseling. Client was sentenced to 1 year of house arrest after serving 3 days in the county prison.

CASE DISMISSED

Commonwealth v. "C" (Felony drug/Firearms case)

Client was charged with felony Delivery of drugs and illegal gun possession and was facing a mandatory 3-6 year prison sentence in the State prison system. Client was sentenced to one year of house arrest.

CASE DISMISSED

Commonwealth v. "S"

Client was charged with simple assault, domestic. After a hearing where evidence and testimony was presented, the entire case was dismissed by Judge Leonard Brown.

CASE DISMISSED

State of New Jersey v. "H"

Charges for young man charged with second degree aggravated assault were downgraded to third degree and he was accepted into the County Pretrial Intervention program with charges to be dismissed and record expunged after one year of misconduct free behavior.

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