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Court upholds confession after police fail to give Miranda rights, part II

Earlier in the week, we talked about a suspect who was arrested on a gun charge and an appeals court's decision to allow his confession into evidence. The controversy surrounding the case, however, is that the man's confession to the violent criminal charges came after a first confession in which the suspect was not read his Miranda rights. Until this appeals court decision, confessions following a "deliberate, two-step interrogation" would be thrown out under a United States Supreme Court Case.

In this case, the man had already confessed to the gun crime when he was sitting handcuffed on a couch and being interrogated by an agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. After he made his initial confession, he was read his Miranda rights and interrogated a second time, less than two hours since his first arrest. Much like in his first interrogation, the man soon admitted to the crime and the government tried to use this second confession to convict the man.

After the district court refused to allow the second confession because of the previous Supreme Court ruling, the government appealed, asking the court to allow the second confession to be used in the man's criminal trial. The appeals court agreed with the government, saying that the agent did not deliberately fail to inform the man of his Miranda rights.

This could have disastrous results for people picked up for crimes. If this ruling is upheld and enforced, the government only needs to show that their officers were not using the two-step interrogation process that the Supreme Court forbade. With this in mind, police officers may be able to slightly alter their techniques so as to fall within these requirements.

Source: Reuters, "No Miranda violation in gun case confession: Appeals court," Basil Katz, May 17, 2012

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James N. Papirmeister, Esq.

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As Published in Washingtonian Magazine | Washington's Best Legal Minds | 2013