On Tuesday, the United States Supreme Court heard argument in a significant case – Howes v. Fields – affecting individual rights. At issue – whether police are required to read prisoners their Miranda rights every time they interrogate them about crimes unrelated to their current incarceration. Requiring police read you your rights, even while in prison, is necessary in order to protect individual rights and prevent against coerced confessions.
Tuesday’s case before the Supreme Court involved the confession of Randall Lee Fields. Fields was serving a 45-day prison sentence for disorderly conduct when a Lenawee County jail guard and sheriff’s deputies took him into a conference room and began questioning him. Although the deputies told Fields he was free to leave, they never read him his Miranda rights. Police are required to give notice to all criminal suspects in their custody of their Miranda rights before questioning. A Miranda warning provides individuals notice of their constitutional right to remain silent and their right to legal counsel.
After being questioned for seven hours concerning allegations that he had sexually assaulted a minor, Fields confessed. He was subsequently convicted of criminal sexual assault and sentenced to 10 to 15 years in jail.
Fields appealed the use of his confession. Under Michigan law, if you have been convicted of any criminal offense in federal or state court, you have the right to appeal your conviction and sentence to the highest level. An experienced Michigan criminal appeals attorney can determine any key issues that would give a client the probability to overturn a conviction or give another chance to secure their freedom.
On appeal, the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals determined that Fields’ confession and conviction were invalid and that police are required to read inmates their Miranda rights anytime they are isolated from other inmates and may be likely to incriminate themselves.
The dismissal was appealed to the Supreme Court, which heard arguments this week. According to the Detroit Free Press, the Court appeared split in their opinion. The Court will decide in the spring.
If police have taken you into custody and are questioning you about any Michigan criminal offense, such as assault, drug charges or homicide, they must read you your Miranda rights. Failing to read your rights may lead to the exclusion of your statements, and may lead to charges being dismissed. Contacting an experienced Michigan criminal defense attorney at once is important if you’re under investigation or have been arrested for any Michigan crime in order to evaluate the charges, ensure police and prosecutors follow proper procedures and prepare a vigorous defense.
The U.S. Constitution has a tremendous impact on criminal law enforcement at all levels. The fundamental rights such as the right to counsel and the privilege against self-incrimination are necessary to ensure individuals are treated fairly. The Miranda warning ensures all those under investigation are aware of these rights and should include those in prison as well.
For more information or if you are under investigation or have charged with any Michigan criminal offense, contact the aggressive Michigan criminal defense law firm Grabel & Associates to protect your rights and prepare a vigorous defense.