Casey Anthony was back in the news again. This time she appealed a decision in her conviction for providing false information to a law enforcement officer during a missing person investigation. The appeal concerned statements she made to the police when investigating, at the time, the disappearance of Caylee Anthony. She was arguing that the court should have thrown out those statements to law enforcement because she was not read her Miranda rights before making those statements to the police. If the court agreed she should have been read Miranda, the criminal charges would have been dismissed.
The District Court of Appeal ruled against her in this case. The court ruled that the police did not have to read her rights because she was in custody. This is probably the number one question or fact about a case clients want to tell me about:
“The police did not read me my rights!”
When do the police have to read a suspect their rights?
The police only have to read you your rights when you are in custody and subject to interrogation. “In custody” means that a reasonable in the defendant's position would believe that his or her freedom was curtailed to a degree associated with actual arrest. The Florida Supreme Court has stated there are four factors that determine whether a suspect is in custody:
- the manner in which law enforcement officers summon the suspect for questioning;
- the purpose, place, and manner of the interrogation;
- the extent to which the suspect is confronted with evidence of his or her guilt; and
- whether the suspect is informed that he or she is free to leave.
In Casey’s case, the court rules she was not in custody because she was not summoned to the police station. The police went to her call based on a 911 call. She was interviewed in her own home. This is a less coercive environment that being in an interrogation room. At the time she gave the statement, Casey was considered a witness and not a suspect of a crime. The purpose of the interview was not to obtain incriminating evidence against her, but information regarding the alleged kidnapping. She was not confronted with any evidence that indicated she was guilty of a crime. Casey was free to leave or roam around the house as she pleased. Thus, under the four factors, she was not “in custody’ for purposes of reading her her rights.
Casey also argued that when the police first came to her house, they arrested her for unrelated grand theft charges. The appellate court rejected this argument also because the police removed the handcuffs and she voluntarily talked about the kidnapping case. Any link to the arrest for grand theft had been broken and she was not in custody the court ruled.
The court ruled that Casey Anthony’s statements made at Universal Orlando were more difficult to determine whether she was in custody. Of course, in a case this notorious, the appellate courts are not going to do her any favors. In addition, courts do not like to throw out or suppress someone’s statements because that would make it harder to convict someone of a crime. At Universal, she was confronted with evidence of her guilt, the officer’s tone was much more accusing, and she was in a small room with the door closed. When it comes to these types of cases and issues, the court many times can use the “factors” to get whatever result they desire. Casey Anthony’s case was no different. The court held that the officers were not accusing her, but frustrated with her for leading them on a “wild goose chase,” that tone of the conversation was not accusatorial and the officers did not speak to her in an intimidating manner. The appellate court felt it was significant that the police confirmed with her more than once during the interview that she was there voluntarily for the purpose of helping the officers locate her missing daughter. So, as expected, the court ruled that a reasonable person in Appellant's position would not believe “that his or her freedom was curtailed to a degree associated with actual arrest.” This meant the statements were properly admitted into evidence against her.
Just because Motions to Suppress Statements based upon a suspects Miranda rights are difficult to win, does not mean that you will not get your statements thrown out. Call now for a free consultation to see if the police violated your Constitutional “right to remain silent” by not reading you your rights. It may result in your charges getting dismissed.
Call Polk criminal defense lawyer Thomas C. Grajek now for more information about the facts of your case
Thomas C. Grajek 863-688-4606
Aggressive DUI, DRUG and SEX CRIME attorney representing all individuals arrested in Florida and Polk County, Florida including Bartow, Lakeland, Winter Haven, Mulberry, HainesCity, Auburndale, and LakeWales.