Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Conviction reversed for Miranda violation

In State v. Miller the Fifth District reversed a conviction for violation of the Fifth Amendment right to counsel.

At least four times during a custodial interrogation--including at least two times after being handcuffed and formally arrested--the defendant asked for a lawyer. Despite these requests, police officers repeatedly asked the defendant to talk to them, and he ultimately made an incriminating statement. The trial court denied his motion to suppress.

The court of appeals reversed, holding that the dialogue in which the incriminating statement was made was invoked by the police detectives, not the defendant, and that the defendant never expressly waived his right to counsel. It therefore vacated the conviction and sentence and remanded for further proceedings.

The case contains a brief but good review of earlier Ohio right-to-counsel cases, including a rather detailed list of what constitutes an "equivocal" request for counsel rather than a "clear" or "unequivocal" request.

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