The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court recently reversed the conviction of William Santos, who in 2008 was convicted of the Murder of Luis Daniel Rodriguez during an alleged drug deal. Declaring that certain evidence was improperly admitted at his trial, the court has ordered a new trial.
Prior to his trial, Santos had argued that certain statements he allegedly made to police should have been excluded from trial because he had invoked his constitutional right to remain silent and asked to speak with an attorney. At the time, the judge in the case ruled that he wasn’t in ‘custody’ and therefore, Miranda warnings are not required. The prosecution also pointed out that despite asking for an attorney, he continued to speak to police.
Miranda warning are technically only necessary when the person is subject to interrogation by law enforcement AND he is in custody or in a custodial setting.
The Massachusetts Supreme Court, however, overruled that decision, holding that once there was an unequivocal invocation of his right to speak with an attorney, the interview should have been terminated immediately and the police should not have allowed him to continue to speak.
In all my years in defending persons charged with any crime, I have yet to see a case where the defendant spoke to the police and it benefitted him. In the vase majority of cases where my clients have made statements, the clients then assert that their words were taken out of context, changed and have even denied making statements altogether.
There is a reason why there is a constitutional right to remain silent, for not other reason that whatever you say can and will be used against you in court. Chances are, if the police are questioning you and think you’re a suspect, they’re not asking questions to help you – they’re asking questions to build a strong case and bury you when you get charged.
Unequivocally, the better and safest practice in ANY circumstances is to NOT answer any questions without first speaking to a lawyer.
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