On Monday, one young man got some good news that could mean a huge difference in his future. And this case provides an opportunity to teach many a lesson about the legal process. Confessions can make a significant difference in the strength of a case, so knowing when a confession is and isn’t legit is hugely important.
The Maryland Court of Appeals, the highest court in the state, ruled that a confession given by a 21-year-old suspect of a violent crime is inadmissible in court. What does that mean for the suspect? For now, his murder case is going back to trial in Baltimore, where prosecutors will try to make a strong case against the defendant without using the confession as evidence.
Why did the court decide that the confession was inadmissible? Basically, an officer misled the suspect during a 2006 interrogation. He was questioned following the murder of a 40-year-old victim who was killed while three suspects were attempting a theft.
Suspects should always be read their Miranda rights upon arrest, which guarantees them their right to remain silent and that anything they say can and will be used against them in a court of law. Those promises were tainted, however, when the interrogating officer told the suspect that anything he admitted would remain only between the suspect and the officer.
The high court saw how that promise would confuse the suspect about his legal rights and, therefore, lead to a confused confession. That so-called confession aided in the prosecution’s case against the young man, which resulted in him being sentenced to life in prison. With a new trial, the defendant will get a new, fair chance at protecting his future.
The Baltimore Sun: “Court of Appeals throws out murder conviction,” Peter Hermann, 31 Jan. 2011
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