He was read his rights and agreed to waive the right to an attorney. The questioning was several hours following a car accident where the defendant had suffered a concussion. Along with the admission that he had drank a certain amount before driving, his statements during questioning included contradicting information and an admission that he is confused and can't remember certain events that occurred. Can it be argued that his confessions can't be trusted due to lingering effects from the accident? Is there any way we can prevent this evidence from being considered?
This kind of question is not one that is going to get a simple answer out of this forum. The person who gave the confession will absolutely need a skilled attorney. Confessions can be challenged-- they are difficult to keep out of evidence (although it can be done), but just because something gets into evidence doesn't mean it can't be challenged. Typically, this is an issue that a defense attorney will seek out the assistance of expert witnesses to help explain to the jury. What should be done in this case? That's the kind of answer which can only be given by an attorney after becoming intensely familiar with the case. Please try to get an attorney for this person, it is very important.
There are at least two separate issues to analyze. First, whether he voluntarily, knowingly and intelligently gave up his rights. Based on the facts you provide, maybe there is an argument to be made. Second, if the judge allows the statements to come in, an effective attorney can cross-examine the police officers and cast doubt on the reliability and accuracy of the statements given his condition. Either way, he needs a sophisticated criminal defense attorney. Many of us on Avvo provide a free consultation--get him some good help.
As the other lawyers have suggested, this is a fact specific issue. It appears suspect was properly given Miranda advisement and suspect seems to have chosen to waive it and make statement. Generally on those facts the statement can come in as an admission against defendant at trial. However there are circumstances where statement could be suppressed. Perhaps the officer physically abused the suspect before giving Miranda which would render any statement involuntary and inadmissible. Perhaps officer made threats to suspect that if he didnt make statement he or a loved one would be physically harmed thus rendering statement involuntary. Perhaps officer made specific promises of leniency or guarantees of a future sentence in exchange for a specific admission to certain facts, again the statement made be found to be involumtary. This is all speculation at this point; the individual needs an attorney asap to review the specific case facts to determine the admissibility of the statement and to look at other avenues of fighting this case.
There are certain questions asked after a stop for a suspected DUI (prior to arrest) that the officers claim are "investigatory" and therefore fall outside of Miranda. If he waived the right to an attorney after being Mirandized and had a medical condition that may have affected his ability to understand the rights he was waiving, there could be issues regarding the admission of those statements at trial. As my colleagues have stated, this is fact specific as to what was said and when. He should absolutely discuss this in detail with an attorney.
Certainly any confession or incriminating statement can be sought to be excluded from evidence. A suppression motion can also be very useful in obtaining potential impeachment evidence for the defense. There may be additional grounds for seeking suppression beyond the circumstances you have described in your question. However, these decisions require an experienced lawyer who knows all the facts and can weigh the merits of bringing such a motion and the best overall strategy for the defendant.
The other attorneys who have responded have covered most of the issues here. I think I would also urge you to get as much documentation as possible of the client's concussion and/or other injuries. Concussions can cause confusion, but it matters a great deal not only what injuries the client sustained, but how close in time the injuries were to the questioning. I had a client who made all sorts of admissions and other confused statements as paramedics were wiping blood off of him, and loading him into the ambulance. To this day he has no recollection of even seeing the police officer, let alone speaking to him. In that case we successfully suppressed his statements, but we had testimony from the first responders that he was confused and rambling, emergency room and ICU staff that confirmed that he wasn't sure of his own name, and a physician who was willing to support our position.
Thus, the unique facts of this case, and how well you can document them, are critical to determining whether these statements can be suppressed.
I agree with the other attorneys who have answered that this a very complicated issue and is very fact-dependent on the very specific facts of this case.
There are two possible avenues here. One is a pre-trial strategy: to suppress the blood or breath evidence based on an unreasonable search/seizure. This strategy will depend on when the blood or breath sample was taken and the ability of the defendant, given his injuries,to understand and give consent for the blood/breath test, as well as other issues. More facts are needed to fully analyze this issue.
The second strategy is a trial strategy (meaning the case did not settle on a plea agreement and is going to trial.) This strategy is Miranda. A Miranda waiver has to be knowing and intelligent so if he did not understand that he was waiving his rights due to his concussion, a judge could rule that his statements are inadmissible evidence at trial. However, the blood or breath results would still be admissible unless they were suppressed.
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