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The right to remain silent can invalidate confessions

Whenever someone is arrested and charged with a crime, that person has the right to remain silent. If the person chooses to exercise that right, the police or other investigators are not allowed to continue to harass that person to talk. In situations where authorities ignore this right and invoke a confession or evidence against the person, it can be barred from court.

This was the basis of the ruling in a recent criminal appeals court case. In the case, a man was accused in a 2008 theft of an armored car. He was questioned for more than one hour by the police before telling them that he did not want to talk anymore and he wanted a lawyer. However, only a little while later, he said he changed his mind and wanted to keep talking.

The appeals court ruled that an interrogating officer must honor the right to remain silent, and any evidence gathered from anything said after invoking this right must be disregarded. This includes the evidence gathered by police officers who used this man’s confession to obtain a search warrant of his car and home.

This case should be interesting for anyone who has been charged with a crime in Maryland. Though this case did not take place in Maryland, it highlights the technical nature of criminal procedures.

If you are facing criminal charges, such as robbery or theft, you should have an experienced criminal defense lawyer who can ensure that all of your rights are protected. If the police or other investigators did not follow proper procedures before, during or after your arrest, you may have a good defense on procedural grounds against the charges you face.

Source: Pioneer Press, “Wisconsin man accused of Lake Elmo, Hudson crime spree wins appeal,” Andy Rathbun, Feb. 8, 2012

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