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Arizona Court Allows Defendant’s Statement into Evidence That Was Taken After Invoking Miranda Rights

Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in an Arizona homicide case discussing the admissibility of the defendant’s statement. Ultimately, the court allowed the admission of the defendant’s inculpatory statement, although it was made after he invoked his right to an attorney, because the defendant “reinitiated communication” with law enforcement.

According to the court’s opinion, an inmate was allegedly attacked by the defendant and several others while in prison. The inmate died as a result of his injuries, and the state brought murder charges against the defendant. After the incident, the criminal investigations unit (CIU) tried to speak with the defendant, who invoked the right to an attorney.

The next morning, members of the prison’s special security unit (SSU) tried to talk with the defendant, who again refused to speak about the incident. However, as the SSU members were leaving, the defendant stated that he would talk to one specific member of the SSU. The defendant explained that he had “game-changing information” for this individual. The SSU arranged to have the requested member of SSU meet with the defendant, and the defendant admitted he was involved in the incident, but claimed he was not the killer.

Two weeks later, CIU investigators again tried to discuss the incident with the defendant, but he refused. About a year later, the defendant reached out to CIU investigators and made a statement, largely repeating what he told to the SSU member. The defendant requested that they transfer him to protective custody in exchange for making the statement. The CIU officers told him that they could not guarantee a transfer, but that they would recommend it.

The defendant later filed a motion to suppress the statements he made to both SSU and CIU investigators on the basis that he had invoked his Miranda rights. Specifically, he requested an attorney be present for all conversations with law enforcement. The court, however, rejected the defendant’s claim, finding that the defendant was the one who reinitiated conversations with law enforcement after invoking his right to an attorney. The court explained that once a defendant invokes his Fifth Amendment rights, law enforcement cannot reapproach him in an attempt to get around his constitutional rights. However, if a defendant voluntarily reinitiates conversation with law enforcement, the Fifth Amendment no longer prevents the officers from asking questions or following up on what the defendant tells them.

Have You Been Arrested after Making a Statement?

If you have recently been arrested after making a statement to a police officer, a detective, or other law enforcement officer, contact Attorney James E. Novak. Attorney Novak is an experienced Tempe criminal defense attorney with extensive experience handling all types of cases, including Arizona violent crimes, sex offenses, and other serious felony charges. Attorney Novak can help keep unfavorable evidence out of the jury’s consideration and also knows how to skillfully negotiate on behalf of his clients. To learn more about how Attorney Novak can help you defend against the charges you are facing, call 480-413-1499 to schedule your free consultation today.

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