It is common knowledge that when a person is charged with a crime, they cannot be forced to make self-incriminating statements. Many people do not understand the nuances of the right against self-incrimination, however, or when it applies, as demonstrated in a recent case in which the defendant’s conviction for unlawful possession of a firearm was upheld, in part because of statements the defendant made to police prior to his arrest. If you are charged with a weapons crime, it is prudent to speak to a knowledgeable Washington weapons charge defense attorney regarding your rights.
Facts Surrounding the Defendant’s Arrest
It is reported that the defendant was arrested and charged with theft of a firearm and two counts of unlawful possession of a firearm. Before the trial commenced, the defendant filed a motion to suppress statements he made to police officers prior to his arrest, on the grounds that he was not advised of his Miranda rights, his statements were involuntary, and he was in the custody of the police. The trial court denied the defendant’s motion, and he was convicted. He appealed on numerous grounds, including the argument that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress. After reviewing the facts of the case, the appellate court affirmed the trial court ruling.
Right Against Self-Incrimination
Upon review, the appellate court found that the defendant was not in police custody at the time he made his incriminating statements, and therefore, the trial court properly denied his motion to suppress. The appellate court explained that in determining whether a suspect is in police custody, the court will assess whether a reasonable person in the suspect’s position would feel as if his or her freedom was impaired to the degree normally associated with an arrest. The court went on to state that an interrogation in terms of Miranda rights does not only refer to express questioning but also to any actions or words on behalf of the police that the police understand are reasonably likely to result in an incriminating statement.
In the subject case, the court noted that the police officers were wearing full uniforms when they knocked on the defendant’s door and asked him to come outside, which he did voluntarily. Once he was outside, he willingly answered the officer’s questions, despite repeatedly being advised that he was free to leave. Further, the incriminating statement that the defendant made to the police officers was made voluntarily and was not in response to any question posed by the officers. As such, the appellate court found that there was ample evidence to support the trial court’s finding that the defendant was not in police custody, nor was he being interrogated, at the time he made the incriminating statement. Thus, the appellate court affirmed the trial court ruling.
Speak to a Knowledgeable Criminal Defense Attorney
If you are charged with a weapons crime, it is important to know your rights and to retain an attorney who will fight to protect your interests. The knowledgeable Washington weapons charge defense attorneys of the Law Offices of Smith & White possess the skills and resources needed to help you seek a just result, and we will advocate zealously on your behalf. You can reach us at 253-363-8662 or through the form online to schedule a meeting.