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.