Court Discusses When Resumption of Questioning After Invoking Miranda Rights is Permissible in a Florida Carjacking Case

It is well known that criminal defendants have the right to remain silent and cannot be forced to testify against themselves but the nuances of the protections against self-incrimination are not understood by most people. In a recent case in which the defendant was charged with armed carjacking, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit analyzed whether questioning the defendant about a crime months after he invoked his right to remain silent violated his Miranda rights. If you face car-jacking charges or are charged with any other violent crime it is imperative to engage a skilled St. Petersburg violent crime defense attorney to assist you in protecting your rights.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that in August 2016, the victim drove to a bank with his wife and son, and left his wife and son in the car while he went into the bank. While the victim was in the bank, the defendant allegedly opened the driver’s side door of the car, pointed a gun at the victim’s wife, and ordered her to get out of the car without her son. The wife attempted to unbuckle the child’s seatbelt, and the defendant became angry and screamed at her to leave without the child. The wife was able to extract her son as the defendant put the car into reverse and began backing away.

Allegedly, in September 2016, the defendant was arrested for an unrelated burglary. He was questioned about the burglary and about a “recent carjacking” after which the defendant invoked his right to remain silent and the questioning ceased. It is disputed whether the “recent carjacking” was the August 2016 carjacking or another crime. In December 2016, the defendant was read his Miranda rights, which he waived, and was questioned regarding the August 2016 carjacking. In June 2017 he was charged with carjacking and brandishing a weapon in furtherance of a crime of violence. He pleaded not guilty. Prior to the trial, he filed a motion to suppress his December 2016 statements. The defendant was convicted, after which he appealed.

A Defendant’s Right to Remain Silent

Under the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution, no one can be compelled to testify against his or herself. Thus, under the Miranda ruling, if a person states he or she wishes to remain silent, questioning must end. In the subject case, the defendant argued that the State violated his Miranda rights when it questioned him in December 2016 regarding the carjacking.

The court was not persuaded by the defendant’s argument.  The court stated there are four relevant factors that must be weighed in analyzing whether a resumption of questioning is permissible after a defendant has invoked his Miranda rights. The factors are whether the initial questioning ended immediately, whether a significant amount of time elapsed prior to the resumption of questioning, whether the defendant was read his rights before the second round of questioning, and whether the second set of questions were regarding an unrelated crime.

In the subject case, the court found that the only factor in the defendant’s favor was the fact that he was questioned about the same crime on both occasions. Thus, the court found that the trial court did not err in denying the defendant’s motion to suppress.

Consult an Experienced Attorney Regarding Your Charges

If you are a resident of St. Petersburg charged with a violent crime it is essential to consult an experienced criminal defense attorney regarding your charges and your rights under the law. William Hanlon of Hanlon Law is a seasoned St. Petersburg violent crime defense attorney who will work diligently to help you obtain a favorable result under the facts of your case. Mr. Hanlon can be contacted at 727-897-5413 or through the form online to schedule a free and confidential consultation regarding your charges.

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