Criminal Defense - Sonoma County - People vs. Rascon

On April 3, 2017, the California Court of Appeal decided People v. Rascon. The main issue in this criminal appeal was whether there was a Miranda violation. The criminal law attorneys at Adams Fietz are often asked about Miranda violations.

The Fourteenth Amendment to the federal Constitution and article I, section 15, of the state Constitution bar the prosecution from using a defendant’s involuntary confession. (People v. Massie (1998) 19 Cal.4th 550, 576.) “[A]ny statement obtained from a criminal suspect by a law enforcement officer during custodial interrogation is potentially involuntary because such questioning may be coercive.” (People v. Neal (2003) 31 Cal.4th 63, 79.) Thus, in Miranda, “the United States Supreme Court laid down its now familiar rule” (ibid.) that “ ‘a suspect [may] not be subjected to custodial interrogation unless he or she knowingly and intelligently has waived the right to remain silent, to the presence of an attorney, and, if indigent, to appointed counsel.’ ” (People v. Dykes (2009) 46 Cal.4th 731, 751.) “In general, if a custodial suspect, having heard and understood a full explanation of his or her Miranda rights, then makes an uncompelled and uncoerced decision to talk, he or she has thereby knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently waived them.” (People v. Cunningham (2015) 61 Cal.4th 609, 642; see also (Oregon v. Elstad (1985) 470 U.S. 298, 308 (Elstad) [Once a suspect receives the Miranda advisements, he “is free to exercise his own volition in deciding whether or not to make a statement to the authorities.”].)

Note that Miranda warnings are not required until it is a ‘custodial interrogation’. The Court in this case found no Miranda violation. The Detective testified that Rascon gave her answers freely and voluntarily. She was not handcuffed while in the patrol car, and he issued no threats and made no statement implying that failure to answer would be detrimental to her. Detective Campbell took no notes, and the interrogation was not recorded.

The Santa Rosa based criminal defense attorneys at Adams Fietz recommend never speaking to the police without an attorney present. The law surrounding Miranda violations is complex and it is very easy for the State to get any statements you make admitted into evidence. You can call 707-999-9999 for a free consultation with a Sonoma County criminal law attorney.