Today in the world of case review we will look at Maryland v. Shatzer. Shatzer helps us distinguish and interpret two prior cases: Miranda and Edwards v. Arizona, 451 U.S. 477.
Many of us are familiar with the Miranda rights. These rights are actually rights granted to us by the Fifth Amendment, and applied through the Fourteenth Amendment. From there Miranda simply set forth the requirement that individuals be informed of these rights to avoid the "inherently compelling pressures" that arise when a person is being questioned while in custody.
In Edwards, the Supreme Court examined the right to counsel. It was decided that when an individual invokes their right to have counsel present, any response to further questioning and interrogation by the police is deemed to be involuntary.
In the present case, in 2003, Mr. Shatzer was in prison based on a prior conviction. While in prison he was questioned by a police detective regarding allegations that he had sexually abused his son. Mr. Shatzer invoked his Miranda rights (Fifth Amendment rights) to have counsel present during the questioning. The interview was terminated and Mr. Shatzer when on with his life (as much as one can while in prison).
In 2006, Mr. Shatzer was again confronted about allegations that he had sexually abused his son. This was a different officer but the questioning was the same. This time Mr. Shatzer did not invoke his right to have counsel present and said some things that... didn't really help his defense.
Mr. Shatzer was convicted of sexual child abuse and those statements were used to prove the offense. This case was then argued up to the Supreme Court where the court held that Mr. Shatzer experienced a "break in Miranda custody lasting more than two weeks." Because of this break, Edwards does not mandate suppression of the things he said.
Two weeks now seems to be the cutoff - at least with in the Fifth Amendment right to have counsel present. The fact that Mr. Shatzer was in custody for the period of time in between interrogations also reduces the ability that the defense can argue that holding someone in custody should increase the period of time required between questioning. But it may still allow prosecution the ability to argue for a shorter period of time if the person is released between interrogations.
The one bright side is that this is a United States Supreme Court case. As such, the Minnesota Constitution may afford more protection to the citizens within its borders.
Please remember that the interpretation and analysis presented here is not intended to be legal advice. If you are seeking legal advice please contact us for a free consultation and actual examination the issues that your case may present.
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