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The Effect of Berghuis v. Thompkins (08-1470) On The Police?

We have been addressing the situation of when does a person unequivocally invoke one's Miranda rights? As we learned yesterday, we know that a person must unequivocally invoke his or her rights. We understand how that affects our clients directly. However, there is another consequence of this opinion is that police are now authorized to engage in lengthy interrogations.

At this juncture, we should take a moment and remember that the Fifth Amendment is to protect a suspect from coercive interrogations--to ensure that all confessions are valid and voluntarily. Part of the protection our law provides is that lengthy interrogations are viewed under a microscope.

In fact, many police manuals embody this notion. The manuals suggest that police officers should not question the suspect until they have obtained an EXPLICIT waiver of the suspect's rights. That is, there could be no interrogation until the suspect waives their rights. This, however, might not be the case. The Supreme Court appears, whether intentionally or not, to give a constitutional stamp of approval to allow police to question suspect as long as necessary to get the suspect to waive his rights. Even if it involves baiting the suspect--who often times is not aware or have knowledge of Supreme Court precedent. The ramifications, thus, of this case are untold and we will keep a watchful eye on.

If you have been charged with a theft, sex crimes, or a violent crimes, contact a Plano criminal defense lawyer.