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United States Supreme Court denied certiorari in petition regarding how a defendant invokes right to remain silent

As an OUI Lawyer in Massachusetts, a common defense is to attempt to exclude statements from evidence based on the police department failing to provide an individual with their Miranda warnings.

The United States Supreme Court denied review of a Florida Supreme Court’s decision in Deviney v. State, 112 So. 3d 57 (Fla. 2013), reversing a conviction in a murder case on the grounds that the interrogating officers obtained a confession after the defendant had invoked his right to remain silent.

The Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution protect a defendant in a criminal proceeding from self-incrimination, and forbid the government from detaining the defendant without due process of law. In layman’s terms, these constitutional amendments protect the defendant from being required to testify against himself, and ensure that the defendant receives a fair and proper proceeding.

The Florida Supreme Court recently presided over an appeal filed by a defendant in a murder case who was convicted after the trial judge allowed his confessions to the crime while he was being interrogated by detectives. In the matter of Deviney v. State, Deviney voluntarily agreed to appear at a local police department for questioning regarding a recent murder. Deviney also agreed to submit to DNA testing, at which point the detectives confirmed that Deviney’s DNA matched the DNA on the victim’s fingernails.

The detectives returned to the interrogation room and confronted Deviney with the DNA results showing the match, accusing him of murder. Mr. Deviney repeatedly denied the accusation, and then told the detectives: “I’m done. I’m ready to go home” and “I did not do this and if I did do it, I want you all to show me that I did do it.” Deviney told the detectives that he was “done” several times, but the detectives informed Deviney that he was being detained in the investigation of the murder, and so could not be released. A few minutes later, after confronting Mr. Deviney with the DNA results again, he confessed to the murder.

The defense attorneys argued to the Florida high court that the trial judge incorrectly allowed the jury to hear a recording of the defendant’s confession. The Florida Supreme Court agreed with the defense attorneys, holding that Deviney had invoked his Miranda right to remain silent once he stated that he was “done” and “ready to go home.” Therefore, under the Florida court’s ruling, statements made by Deviney after this point in the interrogation were not admissible against him.

The State argues that the Florida court did not comply with earlier decisions requiring a defendant to clearly and unequivocally express his desire to remain silent so that a reasonable officer in similar circumstances would understand the right to remain silent was being invoked. In other words, the State argues that the officers could not have been expected to know that Deviney wished to invoke his right to remain silent when he said “I’m done” and “I’m ready to go home.”

It was not surprising that the United States Supreme Court denied review. This was the type of station house interrogation that the Miranda warnings were designed to preclude in order to preserve the Fifth Amendment privilege against self incrimination.

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