The jails and prisons of Minnesota are brimming with people who handed the police and/or prosecutor critical evidence leading to a less favorable plea agreement or a conviction after trial. A high percentage of people arrested for crimes in Minnesota try to talk their way out of an arrest or criminal charges, only to provide incriminating evidence or make false statements. This gives rise to an array of additional problems. Most people have heard someone read their Miranda Rights on television, or seen the Miranda warning in movies. As a result, many recognize they have a right against self-incrimination (right to remain silent), as well as a right to counsel. Unfortunately, the fear and shock associated with an arrest often results in the ill-conceived decision to waive these valuable rights.
Miranda Rights and Making Statements to Police
If you make statements that provide incriminating information once you have been taken into custody (such as the location of a weapon), this evidence might be subject to exclusion depending on the circumstances surrounding the utterance. Our experienced Minnesota criminal defense attorneys at Gerald Miller, PA analyze the evidence and facts to determine if the police have committed a Miranda violation. Incriminating statements may be subject to suppression in any of the following situations:
- Disregarding the arrestee’s exercise of the right to remain silent
- Failing to provide a Miranda warning after the individual is in custody
- Ongoing questioning after a person in custody has asserted his/her right to a lawyer
- Obtaining statements that are not voluntary because of unlawful coercion
Fruit of the Poisonous Tree
When our Minnesota criminal defense lawyers determine that a Miranda violation has occurred, or a statement has been coerced, we can request a hearing seeking suppression of the illegally obtained statements. If the judge agrees that the information was obtained illegally, the incriminating statements might be excluded. Further, the court also might be persuaded to exclude any evidence discovered because of the incriminating statement based on the “fruit of the poisonous tree” doctrine. When such a motion is successful, the prosecutor’s case can be so substantially compromised that he or she agrees to dismiss the charges or offers an extremely favorable reduction in charges.
The Supreme Court Has Narrowed the Protections of Miranda Rights
While the Miranda warning and the rights included in this advisory are powerful, the Supreme Court has narrowed these protections in recent years. Supreme Court rulings in recent years make it essential that you clearly, unequivocally, and repeatedly assert your right not to speak to the police without an attorney. If you are arrested, you should indicate you do not want to make any statements or answer any question prior to you having your criminal defense attorney available to represent you.
The police may try to persuade you to execute a verbal or written waiver of your Miranda rights. This attempt might be accompanied by intimidation or the suggestion that cooperation provides the best chance of not spending the night in jail. While an interrogation at the police station by an armed police officer or detective can be an extremely intimidating experience, it is unequivocally false that talking to the police will improve your situation. The best way to get home is to clearly assert your rights and stop talking.
Never Lie to the Police
A common error to be avoided when a person is taken into custody involves attempting to deceive the police by telling lies. Lies generally will be exposed and create additional problems, which include the possibility of additional charges. When people attempt to mislead the police with false statements, they tend to complicate their defense strategy by providing conflicting statements or assertions that are not supported by the evidence.
When an accused fails to assert his or her Miranda rights, these statements generally can be used in a variety of ways, such as to impeach your credibility, make you look less sympathetic, prove you committed the crime, or steer the police toward further evidence.
Know if You are In Custody
While Miranda rights provide a formidable protection, many people are unclear regarding the timing of these rights. Law enforcement officers are not required to issue a Miranda warning until a person is “in custody.” Although a formal arrest will trigger Miranda rights, a custodial situation may occur prior to an arrest. A good practice is to ask if you are free to leave since a negative answer generally will indicate you are “in custody” and trigger Miranda protections.
If you have been arrested for a crime in Minnesota, we invite you to speak to a criminal defense lawyer at Gerald Miller, P.A. as soon as possible. Contact us today to schedule your free and confidential case evaluation.