We’ve previously talked about how police push suspects into confessing, but while it’s always better not to confess in the first time, you can still fight the charges even if you have already admitted guilt. Here are a few ways a San Diego criminal lawyer may be able to have a confession tossed out of court.
While what you’ve said to police before they put you under arrest can be used against you, not everything you say to the police can be used in court. Once you have been placed under arrest, police are supposed to read you your rights before questioning you. If you were arrested and the police question you after failing to read you your Miranda Rights, your San Diego defense lawyer may be able to have anything you said during those interrogations withheld from court.
Additionally, if you were read your rights prior to questioning and you invoked your Fifth Amendment right to silence and insisted on speaking to your lawyer, the police are required to leave you alone until your attorney arrives. If they keep trying to interrogate you before your lawyer has arrived, any statements you make may be inadmissible in court.
Coerced or involuntary confessions also cannot be used in court. Unfortunately, it can sometimes be hard to prove when a confession was coerced. Obviously if the police have beaten someone on camera until he confesses, the confession will be considered forced, but real cases are rarely so cut and dry.
In reality, police often will leave a suspect in an interrogation room for lengthy stretches of time -sometimes over 24 hours, and often without providing the suspect any food and often while actively preventing him or her from sleeping. It’s a lot harder to prove that a confession made while under sleep deprivation and while going hungry is technically forced, but it has been done many times. Police may also lie about the evidence to get a confession. For example, police can falsely claim they found your DNA or fingerprints at the crime scene to get a confession. These are yet more reasons you should always ask for your San Diego criminal defense lawyer as soon as you have been arrested -he or she can ensure that you are provided food, not left alone in an interrogation room for hours and not subjected to false evidence until you make a coerced confession.
If you request your attorney and are subjected to any of the problems above, then anything you say is absolutely inadmissible. If you did not request to speak with your attorney, and feel you were subtly coaxed into confessing, be sure to write down every detail of your arrest and detainment as soon as you can so your lawyer may be able to review your circumstances to determine whether your confession might be inadmissible.
Finally, if a confession wasn’t made to a police officer, remember that certain relationships are considered private and protected -so while a confession to your hair stylist could later be used against you, one to your priest could not be. Aside from religious confessions, comments made to a doctor (as long as it relates to your medical conditions), lawyer or spouse are also protected. If the police have somehow acquired information from one of these sources that should be protected, your attorney may be able to have it withheld during a trial.
If you have any questions about whether your confession may be inadmissible in court, San Diego criminal lawyer Peter M. Liss can help. Please call (760) 643-4050 or (858) 486-3024 to schedule a free initial consultation.
Creative Commons Image by Karen Neoh