Michigan Supreme Court Declines to Hear Case Involving Statements Made Without a Lawyer Present

Original Case Details

This case arises from a 2016 incident where the Defendant, Laricca Mathews of Wixom, called 911 to report the shooting of her boyfriend, Gabriel Dumas. Mathews was arrested for his murder and taken in for questioning without an attorney present. Before the interrogation began, the police gave Mathews a document that informed her of her constitutional rights. Mathews was interviewed twice and was told that she had a “right to a lawyer.” The police failed to mention specifically that she could have a lawyer present during police questioning, so Mathews spoke to the police without a lawyer present in both interviews. During the first interview, Mathews claimed that she shot her boyfriend Dumas in self-defense. In the second interview she claimed that the shooting took place face to face. Police confronted her statements by telling Mathews that Dumas was shot in the back of the head. Mathews responded by saying that the bullet may have ricocheted before hitting Dumas. Mathews was charged with murder and later filed a motion to suppress the statements made as they were in violation of her right to have a lawyer present during both interviews conducted by the police. Both the Oakland County Circuit Court and The Michigan Court of Appeals sided with Mathews, agreeing that the police violated her Constitutional right to an attorney.

The Fifth and Sixth Amendment

The Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution is defined by the landmark case of Miranda v. Arizona. This is the case that coined the term “Miranda rights.” Police are required under Miranda to inform you of your right to remain silent, and your right to have an attorney present during any questioning. The Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution also affords some extremely important rights; namely the right to counsel. If the police are found to have violated these rights, statements made outside the presence of an attorney can be thrown out of evidence by a judge. The suppression of statements can often times lead to an entire case being dismissed. Courts across the country are split on the exact requirement of whether a police officer must tell a suspect that they have the right to have a lawyer present during questioning. Luckily, in the State of Michigan, we are on the right side of that coin, as this ruling makes it clear that the Judges in our state require officers to inform suspects of their rights to have an attorney present while they are being questioned.

What’s Next?

Since the Michigan Supreme Court declined to hear the case, the Court of Appeals ruling is binding, and the case will go forward without the statements made by Mathews during these interviews. The rule to suppress evidence that is illegally obtained is one that judges don’t take lightly, especially in a murder case. The prosecution will now have to prove the murder of Mathew’s boyfriend, Gabriel Dumas, without any mention that the police interviews of Mathews even took place. The prosecution will have to rely on whatever physical and scientific evidence they have to prove that Mathews is guilty of murder without and legal justifications, like self-defense. It seems clear that Mathews will likely claim self-defense in any trial against her, and without her statements, that task just became much more difficult.

Any Further Questions?

If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime or are being investigated for one, then it is important to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. At Grabel & Associates, our attorneys have over 100 years of combined experience in successfully defending criminal cases all over the state of Michigan. This experience extends not only to adult cases, but also to juvenile charges. We are not a general practice firm. We are a team of criminal defense attorneys; it’s all we do. We offer a FREE consultation to anyone with questions relating to a possible or existing criminal charge against them or a loved one. Feel free to contact us on our 24/7 defense line at 1-800-342-7896. You can also contact us online or come visit us at one of our three statewide locations. We can also come to you.

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