Posts Tagged ‘Miranda’

Does telling a suspect that “You have the right to talk to a lawyer before answering any of our questions” and “You have the right to use any of these rights at any time you want during this interview” mean the same thing as “You have the right to an attorney during questioning?”

In the case of Florida v. Powell decided February 23, 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the Florida Supreme Court’s holding that the statements made by the police were misleading because they seemed to imply that the suspect only had a right to an attorney prior to the interrogation.  The case of Miranda v. Arizona (1966) requires that a suspect must be clearly warned prior to any questioning that he has the right to consult with a lawyer and to have the lawyer present with him during interrogation.

The Supreme Court stated that the exact warning given did satisfy the requirements in Miranda. The Court declined to prescribe any exact phraseology. What are your thoughts? Do you believe the statement “You have the right to use any of the rights at any time you want during this interview” is clear enough to inform a suspect that he or she can have an attorney present during an interrogation? Why or why not?

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Recently the Supreme Court issued its opinion in Maryland v. Shatzer which created new law. Although the law requires the police to inform those being questioned that they have the right to have an attorney present during questioning, the issue in this case was whether an arrestee’s invocation of the right expires when there is a break in custody. Previous law indicates that police cannot re-question a suspect after they have invoked their right, even after they have spoken with their attorney, unless the suspect approaches them. In the Shatzer case, the suspect invoked his Miranda rights in 2003 after a police officer approached him in jail on another offense. In 2006, a different officer approached him while still in jail and this time he waived his rights.

The lower court in this case had held that because of the “break in custody” between 2003 and 2006, the police were able to re-question the suspect. The Maryland Court of Appeals reversed indicating that because the suspect remained in jail, there was no break in custody. The Supreme Court felt that the previous rule applied to “investigative custody” not any other type of custody. What is interesting about this case is that the Court adopted a 14-day rule which means that the police can now wait 14 days before attempting to re-question a witness who is no longer in custody. This is quite different from the previous rule indicating that once invoked, Miranda rights remain intact until the suspect approaches the police.

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