Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Michigan gun crime case involving the defendant’s claim that his statement should have been suppressed prior to trial. The case illustrates the importance of pretrial motions to suppress, especially when someone makes inculpatory statements after their arrest.
The Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendments to the United States Constitution afford citizens important rights when it comes to interactions with police officers and law enforcement officials. Among the rights conferred by these amendments is the right to be free from self-incrimination. In the landmark 1966 case of Miranda v. Arizona, the United States Supreme Court held that police officers must inform arrestees of their rights before taking a statement. This led to the ubiquitous Miranda warnings with which most are now familiar.
Since the Miranda decision, however, courts have determined that not every post-arrest statement must be suppressed if Miranda warnings were not given. For example, statements that are blurted out without any provocation from the police are not suppressible. Generally, the standard for suppression is whether the person was subject to “custodial interrogation.” If so, Miranda warnings are necessary, and an officer’s failure to Mirandize an arrestee may preclude the admission of any statement that the arrestee makes.
If Miranda warnings are given, police must stop the questioning unless the arrestee “voluntarily, knowingly, and intelligently waives” the right to remain silent and agrees to talk to the police. The burden to show that an arrestee waived their right rests with the State. However, a defendant’s invocation of the right to remain silent must be “unequivocal and unambiguous.”
In the recently decided case, the defendant was arrested based on a suspicion that he was involved in a recent shooting. After the defendant’s arrest, the officers read him his Miranda rights and then transported him to another location. At the second location, officers then Mirandized the defendant again before interrogating him. During the interrogation, the defendant made several statements before stating “I’m done. I told you what I know.” After further questioning, the defendant made additional inculpatory statements. The defendant later sought to suppress the statements based on the purported invocation of his right to remain silent.
The court, however, determined that the defendant’s words “I’m done. I told you what I know” were not an unequivocal and unambiguous invocation of his right to remain silent. The court explained that, while those words may have been an indication that the defendant wanted the interview to end, they could also have meant that he had nothing further to tell the police. Since the court determined that this was not a clear assertion of the defendant’s right to remain silent, the subsequent statements that the defendant made were not suppressible.
Have You Been Arrested After Making a Statement to the Police?
If you have recently been arrested and charged with a serious crime after providing a statement to the police or detectives, there may be grounds to suppress your statement. At Michigan Defense Law, our team of experienced criminal defense lawyers has a keen understanding of search and seizure laws, and we put that advanced knowledge to use in each of our clients’ cases. We handle all types of cases, including gun crimes, drug offenses, and drunk driving arrests. To learn more about how we can help you defend your freedom from the allegations that you are facing, call 248-456-8243 to schedule a free consultation today.