Supreme Court Modifies Miranda Protections

Posted By Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer || 30-Jul-2010

The United States Supreme Court recently expanded the limits on the famous Miranda rights for criminal suspects.  In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court decided that for a suspect to invoke their Miranda rights, they must now verbally assert their right to remain silent in order to stop police interrogations.

This change in the law was triggered by the case of Berghuis v. Thompkins.  Van Chester Thompkins was arrested in 2000 for murder.  Thompkins was read his Miranda rights but refused to sign a form stating that he understood them, or state that he was waiving the rights.  He remained silent through nearly three hours of interrogation, until detectives asked him if he prayed to God asking for forgiveness after shooting the boy. "Yes," was his response, which was the basis for his murder conviction.

On appeal he wanted that statement thrown out because he said he had invoked his Miranda rights by being uncommunicative with the interrogating officers.  The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati agreed and threw out his confession and conviction. The high court now reversed that decision.  

Justice Kennedy stated that, "Thompkins did not say that he wanted to remain silent or that he did not want to talk to police.  Had he made either of these simple, unambiguous statements, he would have invoked his 'right to cut off questioning.' Here he did neither, so he did not invoke his right to remain silent."

Based on this ruling, criminal suspects must now affirmatively invoke their right to remain silent in order to stop a police interrogation.  Without this statement, the police may continue questioning a suspect and any statements would be admissible in court.

If you have any questions about your miranda rights, speak to our Los Angeles criminal defense attorney today for a free consultation.

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