The Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution protects people from incriminating themselves. In Miranda v. Arizona, the United States Supreme Court interpreted the Fifth Amendment to require that a criminal suspect be verbally advised of their right to remain silent and to be represented by an attorney prior to being questioned by the police. If a criminal defendant chooses to waive their Miranda rights, however, any information that they provide law enforcement agents can be used against them. Recently, a Florida court discussed what evidence is needed to demonstrate a voluntary and knowing waiver of Miranda rights in a matter in which the defendant appealed his conviction for first-degree murder and other crimes. If you are accused of a violent offense, it is in your best interest to meet with a Tampa violent offense defense lawyer to discuss your rights.
The Facts of the Case
It is alleged that the defendant walked into a home in which an eighteen-year-old and five other children were sleeping. One of the children recognized the defendant from a social media website. The defendant fired a gun multiple times, striking the eighteen-year-old and two of the children; the eighteen-year-old died from his wounds. The police arrested the defendant and transported him to a homicide office.
It is reported that the defendant advised the police that he could read and write English and was not under the influence of drugs. He was then given a form listing his constitutional rights and verbally advised of his right not to make statements or answer questions and of his right to an attorney. He stated he understood his rights and answered the detective’s questions. The defendant was charged with first-degree murder, second-degree murder, and four other crimes. He moved to suppress the statements he made during the initial investigation, arguing he did not validly waive his Miranda rights. The trial court denied his motion, and a jury convicted him as charged. He then appealed.
Proving a Defendant Waived Their Miranda Rights
On appeal, the court affirmed the trial court ruling and the defendant’s convictions. The court noted that the defendant did not argue that he was not given an accurate or full description of his constitutional rights. Instead, he argued that he did not validly waive his Miranda rights before talking to detectives without a lawyer present.
The court explained that the state bore the burden of proving that the defendant’s waiver was voluntary, intelligent, and knowing. Whether a waiver is voluntary, intelligent, and knowing, requires two distinct inquiries. First, the waiver of the right needs to be voluntary, in that it was the product of a deliberate and free choice instead of deception, intimidation, or coercion.
Second, the waiver must be made with a total awareness of both the nature of the right and the ramifications of the decision to relinquish it. In the subject case, the court found that the state provided ample evidence in support of its position that the defendant validly waived his Miranda rights. Thus, his appeal was denied.
Talk to a Seasoned Tampa Criminal Defense Attorney
People accused of committing violent crimes cannot be forced to make statements regarding their guilt against their will, and if they are, such statements should be deemed inadmissible. If you are charged with a violent crime, you should talk to an attorney about what defenses are available. The seasoned Tampa lawyers of Hanlon Law possess the skills and resources needed to help you seek a favorable outcome, and if you hire us, we will advocate aggressively on your behalf. You can contact Hanlon Law by using the form online or by calling us at 813-228-7095 to set up a meeting.