In a recent decision, the U.S. Supreme Court instituted a new rule when it comes to criminal law, police questioning and the safeguards surrounding the scope of Miranda. On February 24, 2010, the Supreme Court ruled that if a criminal suspect requests to speak with his lawyer, the police must stop their questioning and cannot restart interrogating him until 14 days has passed. This new rule, outlined in Maryland v. Shatzer narrows the Court’s previous ruling on this issue.
In the 1981 case of Edwards v. Arizona, the Supreme Court established a clear rule to protect a criminal suspect who invokes his 5th Amendment right to an attorney against the pressures and coercion of police in the custodial interrogation setting. In short, the rule was that if a criminal suspect wants to speak with his lawyer, the police must stop their questioning and cannot restart their interrogation of him unless the suspect himself initiates the questioning on his own – otherwise the presumption would be that any subsequent waiver of Miranda would be the result of coercion. The Supreme Court’s decision in Maryland v. Shatzer limits that rule, now permitting to the police to essentially ignore the criminal suspect’s earlier request for a lawyer and reinitiate questioning after a period of 14 days if there had been a sufficient break in the custodial interrogation.
The Supreme Court’s decision on this critical criminal law issue appears to provide the police a bright-line rule of what they are and are not permitted to do. One might agree that the police and law enforcement in general need to have a checklist of ‘do’s and dont’s spelled out for them, otherwise we might invite them to engage in unconstitutional police practices…
Massachusetts Criminal Lawyer Disagrees with U.S. Supreme Court Ruling:
The Edwards v. Arizona case expressly stated that once a criminal suspect invokes his constitutional right to speak with his lawyer, the police cannot initiate any further questioning without his attorney. Although I agree that the the Edwards rule did not create an indefinite time period between the criminal defendant’s invocation of his right to an attorney and re-interrogation, I believe that these types of issues should be examined on a case by case basis.
For example, if a criminal suspect invokes his right to speak with his lawyer, I don’t see any reason why the police should be able to re-interrogate that person just because a few days went by. For all purposes, a criminal investigation doesn’t just go away overnight, and there is no reason to expect that a suspect might be more willing to talk just because he had some time to think it over. Rather, police coercion into having the criminal suspect submit to the pressures of questioning would actually increase, particularly if that person is held in custody. A person’s free will, if held in custody over time pending criminal charges, would only be undermined over time, not enhanced.
Remember, if you are investigated for a criminal offense or are arrested for a crime, you have the right to remain silent and have your criminal lawyer present during any police questioning. These rights are there for a reason, and you should always take advantage of them and NEVER agree to any police questioning without first speaking with your criminal lawyer! For whatever reason, many people think they can talk their way out of being arrested, or if they tell their ‘side of the story’ they will not be charged. This never works. When you are under criminal investigation, the police are not your friends and their only goal is to exploit whatever you say and use it against you.
For a free consultation to discuss your case, contact your Massachusetts Criminal Lawyer today – Lefteris K. Travayiakis is available 24/7 and can be reached via e-mail or at 617-325-9500.