The admissibility of a defendant’s confession, or other statements which are incriminating, involves analyzing the constitutional protections set forward in the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendments. In order to determine whether or not statements in a criminal case by the defendant are admissible, consider the following questions and outline:
- Voluntary – First, was the defendant’s statement voluntary? It must be voluntary as determined by the totality of the circumstances. A statement will be involuntary if there is some kind of official compulsion. For instance, if a cop holds a gun to your head and says “tell me you did it,” anything said would clearly not be voluntary and thus inadmissible.
- Custody – The next question to ask is whether or not the defendant was in custody when the statement was made. If the defendant was not in custody or being detained, anything he/she said would likely be admissible. If the cops are merely speaking with you but haven’t detained you or arrested you, your not in custody and are making voluntary statements.
- Interrogation – If the defendant was in custody at the time, was the statement given by defendant in response to police interrogation or did the defendant offer the confession or statement absent law enforcement eliciting information. For instance, if the defendant is handcuffed and in the back of a squad car, and is just running off at the mouth without any questioning by the police officer driving, such statements would likely be admissible. We see this occur often where a defendant makes voluntary statements without even being questioned by the police than later claims no miranda rights were given but the motion to suppress fails because of a lack of interrogation.
- Miranda Warnings – If the defendant is in custody and is being interrogated by the police, were miranda warnings given prior to the defendant’s statements? If so, defendant’s statement thereafter may be admissible. It is important to note that miranda warnings are only necessary if the defendant is in custody and is being interrogated by the police.
- Waiver – Did the defendant knowingly and voluntarily waive both the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney? If the defendant invoked either right, and was still questioned by police, any statement given will likely be inadmissible. The defendant may terminate any interrogation at anytime prior to or during the questioning invoking his/her Miranda rights.
There are other exceptions that might apply to the general rules cited above so anyone charged with a crime seeking to throw out a confession or statement should speak directly with an Ogden Utah Criminal Defense Lawyer regarding their particular set of circumstances.