People v. Avalos: Conviction Reversed Due to Miranda Violation
By law, a police officer must read you your rights when you are arrested. This is called a “Miranda warning” and consists of the following statements:
- You have the right to remain silent.
- Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.
- You have the right to an attorney.
- If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you.
When an arresting officer fails to read you your Miranda rights or commits a Miranda violation, it may be grounds to have your case thrown out. In the case of People v. Avalos, detailed below, the law enforcement officer committed a Miranda violation by encouraging the suspect to continue speaking to police after he requested counsel. If you feel that you have been wrongfully deprived of your Miranda rights, contact an experienced defense attorney at Wallin & Klarich today to see how we can help you preserve your rights and seek justice. Call us toll-free at 877-466-5245. We will be there when you call.
The defendant Ismael Avalos was an 18-year-old high school student who was arrested on a murder charge. After being questioned by the police for five hours, Avalos stated that he wanted to speak to a lawyer. The detective responded that while she respected Avalos’s decision, she encouraged Avalos to reach out if he changed his mind. Specifically, she said, “I care about you getting your story the right way out.” The following day, Avalos asked to speak to the detective again and asked, “Whatever I tell my lawyer, he’s going to tell you the same thing, right?” He then waived his Miranda rights and admitted to shooting the victim. Avalos was subsequently convicted of murder.
Miranda Waiver Law
Miranda rights were named after the case of Miranda v. Arizona, where the court determined that a suspect’s rights must be “scrupulously honored.” When a suspect is questioned by the police and states that he wants to speak to an attorney, the police cannot question him further or try to convince him to keep talking until counsel has been made available to him. However, if the suspect initiates further conversation voluntarily, the police may continue their line of questioning. In order to waive one’s Miranda rights, the prosecution must show that the waiver was “knowing, intelligent, and voluntary.” In other words, a Miranda waiver is only valid if the suspect understood that he was relinquishing his rights and was not coerced into doing so. This is to protect the integrity of a suspect’s choice to communicate with police only through counsel and to prevent police from badgering a defendant into waiving his Miranda rights.
Conviction Reversed Due to Miranda Violation
On appeal, Avalos argued that the trial court erred in admitting the second interview into evidence over his objection. The appellate court agreed, finding that Avalos did not make a knowing, intelligent, and voluntary Miranda waiver prior to the second interview. This was demonstrated by Avalos’s confusion about the role of a detective versus a lawyer, as well as the detective’s statement encouraging Avalos to speak to her because she cared about getting his story out the right way. Given that she said this after Avalos had already invoked the right to counsel, the court found that the detective – rather than Avalos – initiated the second interview. Therefore, the admission of the interview into evidence was not harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. The appellate court thus reversed the trial court’s judgment.
Contact Wallin & Klarich Today
If you or your loved one has been the victim of a Miranda violation, you may be able to get your conviction reversed. Contact our skilled defense attorneys today to see if we can argue this defense on your behalf. With 40+ years of experience, Wallin & Klarich has helped thousands of clients achieve redress and avoid harsh legal penalties. By keeping up-to-date on the most recent case law, our attorneys know the most effective strategies to help you achieve the best possible outcome.
With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, Torrance, West Covina, Los Angeles, and San Diego, you are sure to find a Wallin & Klarich lawyer available to help you in a convenient location. Discover how our team can assist you. Contact us today, toll-free at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free consultation with a skilled defense attorney.