Archive for the ‘Miranda Rights’ Category

Juveniles Are More Likely to Be Bullied into False Confessions

January 8th, 2015 at 8:32 am

Illinois defense attorney, police bullying tactics, Illinois criminal lawyer,The television news show 60 Minutes called Chicago the false confession capital of the United States just a couple of years ago. This is because there are twice as many documented cases of false confessions in the Chicago area as there are in there are in any other city in the country. A false confession is what happens when an innocent person commits a crime he or she did not commit. It may seem like no one would ever do this, but unfortunately it happens regularly, even in serious felony cases. While adults sometimes confess falsely, false confessions are even more common amongst juveniles.

Study Shows False Confessions More Common Amongst Juveniles

The Innocence Project is the organization that is responsible for using DNA evidence to prove that hundreds of prisoners in the United States were actually innocent. Last year they reported on a new study that shows false confessions are more likely among juveniles. The study was conducted by Florida International University, and was funded by the National institute of Mental Health. A psychologist, Lindsay C. Malloy, examined the interrogations, confessions, and guilty pleas of 193 teenage boys between the ages of 14 and 17 who were convicted of serious crimes. The results of the study showed that these teens were much more likely to falsely confess than their older counterparts.

Of those wrongfully convicted and then later proven innocent by DNA evidence, roughly 30 percent of the innocent defendants confessed to some degree or even pled guilty. Part of the reason that juveniles are so likely to fall into this trap is that they can be easier for interrogators to manipulate and they sometimes do not fully understand their situation. While even adults often times do not understand that they should not talk to police about a crime they are suspected of committing without having an attorney present, young people have an even worse understanding of this concept. They often believe if they say they are guilty (even if they are not) that investigators will let them go home.

A Video Taped Coerced Juvenile Confession

CBS San Francisco reported last year on a video taped coerced confession by a teenager. The interrogation started with the 15-year-old boy insisting to police that he “wasn’t there” as they questioned him about a gang shooting. The cops responded to him by saying, “That’s not really going to work, and its not going to be to your benefit to lie about what happened out there…” The cops told him that he was going to jail and that he needed to help himself by telling the truth. They even said that two witnesses had picked him out of a photo lineup. It is unclear from the CBS report whether witnesses actually had picked the juvenile out, but even if they had not, police are legally allowed to lie about such things.

The boy kept insisting he was innocent for an hour, until the cops left him in the interrogation room. He cried. The cops came back and kept pushing him, telling him that he was making a mistake by sticking to his story of innocence. After four hours, he cracked and told the cops he was involved in the crime, but that he was drunk so he didn’t remember the details. The state then convicted him of being an accomplice in the shooting. Now numerous experts who have reviewed the tape of the confession agree that it was coerced. And after 10 years in prison the prosecution’s star witness against the teen admitted his story that the boy was involved in the shooting was a lie. The hope is that these developments will lead to the release of the teenager, who is now in his mid-20s.

Criminal Defense Attorney

If your child is accused of a crime, you will need the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer. This is especially true if the young person in your life has made incriminating statements to police. Contact the experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley and schedule a consultation. Whether its a traffic matter or a serious felony, we can help.

Miranda Rights: What They Mean to You

December 13th, 2013 at 3:18 pm

Any television program involving crime will undoubtedly include a scene in which, upon apprehension of a suspect, law enforcement will begin to recite the familiar verse, “You have the right to remain silent.  Anything you say can and will be held against you in a court of law…”  Many viewers can likely repeat the Miranda rights from memory, but may not be aware of their legal significance.

miranda rightsThe Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution provides protection against due process violations for defendants charged in a criminal matter.  This includes the right to protection against self-incrimination. In Miranda, the U.S. Supreme Court extended the protection against self-incrimination to include statements, including confessions obtained outside the courtroom, provided certain circumstances exist. According to the Court in Miranda, officers need to apprise a suspect of his or her rights before custodial interrogation occurs in order for any statements made by the suspect to be admissible as evidence in a future court proceeding.  An officer may not interrogate a suspect until after warnings have been given and the suspect knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily waives those rights, usually in a signed writing.

The Miranda rights, which must be recited to the suspect, include the following:

  • The right to remain silent;
  • Anything the suspect says can and will be used against them in court;
  • The right to retain counsel and have them present during questioning by law enforcement;
  • The right to have counsel appointed by the court if the suspect cannot afford it.

After these warnings are given, the suspect is free to waive them, or invoke them and request an attorney before any police interrogation takes place.  If they are invoked, questioning must cease. If a suspect initially waives his or her rights and then later invokes them, any questioning must be stopped immediately. Further, a written, valid waiver may be withdrawn at any time if the suspect wishes to continue with interrogation without the benefit of counsel.  The police have the burden of establishing that a suspect has waived his or her rights.

In order for the Miranda warnings to be required, a suspect must be in custody and interrogated by police.  In other words, if police question a suspect who is not in custody, Miranda warnings are not required.  Likewise, if a suspect in custody voluntarily makes an incriminating statement without being questioned by law enforcement, that suspect will probably not be able to invoke the protections afforded by Miranda.

In addition to determining whether a criminal defendant was under custodial interrogation, an additional potential Miranda violation occurs when a suspect’s waiver of his or her rights was not made knowingly, voluntarily, or intelligently.  An experienced criminal defense attorney can listen to the facts of a particular case and explain the implications of Miranda.  If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime in the Chicago, Illinois area, contact us today.  We can discuss your case and advise you of your constitutional rights.