When you are placed under arrest, you have certain rights. One of the most important rights you have is the right to remain silent. However, police will sometimes try to take advantage of you so that you fail to exercise this right. But what happens if you did not know you had the right to remain silent? Can what you say be used against you even if police failed to inform you of your rights?
When False Confessions Lead to Convictions
A recent case involved the issue of a coerced confession and the right to remain silent. In this case, the driver of a vehicle allegedly exited his car and shot to death a person standing on the street while yelling out the name of a gang. Over the course of two days, a 15-year-old suspect was interrogated for hours at a time by police, who told the suspect a series of lies, made serious threats and empty promises in an attempt to get him to confess. During this time, he was never advised of his Miranda Rights.
The suspect confessed to the crime after investigators administered a polygraph test and told him that he had failed. After his confession, the suspect finally was advised of his Miranda Rights, and he repeated his confession.
At trial, the court found the confession that occurred immediately after the polygraph test was invalid because the suspect was placed in custody but was never read his Miranda Rights. However, the judge refused to suppress the second confession. The suspect was convicted of first degree murder with gang and firearm enhancements. He was sentenced to 50 years to life in prison.
How the Court Ruled
The California courts rejected the appeal of the case, ruling that the suspect’s actions were “voluntary.” Both state and federal habeas corpus petitions were denied. Finally, the case was brought before the United States Court of Appeal.
The court reviewed everything that happened during the interrogation and found that this fit squarely with the description of the two-step interrogation technique that violates a person’s constitutional rights. The court concluded that the post Miranda warning confession should have been suppressed, reversed the lower court’s denial of petition, and demanded that he be retried without his confession coming into evidence. This illustrates why it is so important that you have a skilled criminal defense attorney fighting for you if you are accused of a crime.
Call the Criminal Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich
If you are accused of a crime, you should never speak to police without first consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney. At Wallin & Klarich, our knowledgeable criminal defense lawyers have over 30 years of experience successfully defending our clients facing criminal charges. We’ve helped thousands of clients in their time of legal need, and we can help you now.
We have offices in Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, Ventura, Sherman Oaks, Torrance and West Covina. Our experienced criminal defense attorneys are available to help you no matter where you are live or work.
Call our offices today at (888) 280-6839 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.