Miranda Warnings: When a Suspect Won’t Stop Talking
Miranda warnings regularly appear on TV and in the movies. The police advise the alleged suspects of their rights under the law to not incriminate themselves by what they say. On TV, the suspect stays silent. Any attempt by the police to force the suspect to talk after the warnings would make statements or admissions of guilt inadmissible in court. Yet many times the opposite happens in real crime investigations. The police issue the Miranda warnings and the suspect just keeps on talking.
A recent case of a suspect who kept on talking
The issue of whether the prosecution can use those statements after the suspect was Mirandized was the subject of a recent opinion by an Ohio Court. Detective Paul Davis was questioning Sean Matthews at the Hamilton, Ohio police station regarding allegations that Matthews had inappropriately touched a child and had committed other sexual offenses. It was also alleged that some of these charges had occurred in Matthews’ roommate’s car.
Matthews was placed under arrest, and Davis read him his Miranda rights. Matthews refused to waive those rights, which implied that he understood that anything he said could be used against him. At that point, Davis stopped asking Matthews any questions. But Matthews continued to talk, claiming that he had done nothing wrong. During the booking process, Matthews kept talking. He told Davis he had driven his roommate’s car on the days of the incidents in question, but denied that anything criminal had happened. Matthews was subsequently convicted. He appealed, asking the appellate court to review his conviction because the prosecution used the statements he made after he was given his Miranda rights.
The court determined that Matthews had been properly given his Miranda warnings. It also determined that he had refused to waive his rights. Despite the waiver, Matthews’ statements were admissible. There was no evidence that the statements were provoked, coerced or induced by police. In fact, Detective Davis was careful not to question Matthews after he refused to waive his Miranda rights. Therefore, ruled the court, Matthews’ statements were voluntary and admissible as evidence against him.
An important lesson for all arrestees
Matthews’ story illustrates a crucial point for all people who find themselves under arrest. Never say anything. Don’t try to explain yourself. Don’t try to minimize any involvement you might have had in the offense. Instead, wait for your attorneys, and speak only to them. If you are arrested, contact the Ohio criminal defense attorneys at Yavitch & Palmer Co., LPA. We are experienced in representing clients from the time of arrest through the end of trial and, where merited, in post-trial relief.