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Miranda warnings – Fairfax criminal lawyer on two-step interrogation

Virginia criminal lawyer/ DUI attorney for Fairfax County, Arlington, Alexandria, Prince William & Loudoun

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As a Fairfax criminal lawyer, I know that police would prefer the non-existence of the half-century-old Supreme Court Miranda opinion that requires police to advise in-custody criminal suspects of their Fifth Amendmentright to remain silent before non-booking police questioning begins.

Miranda warnings - Fairfax criminal lawyer on two-step interrogation

Miranda warnings – Fairfax criminal lawyer on two-step interrogation (Ernesto Miranda, pictured on right)

Miranda is the law of the land

Miranda is the law of the land, but police do not always initiate such warnings before starting questioning of criminal suspects. Police and prosecutors will often claim that the pre-Miranda questioning was non-custodial, when such warnings were otherwise not yet required, or that the pre-Miranda questions were the type of booking questions that do not require such warnings.

Police  like to get suspects comfortable answering booking questions without Miranda warnings, and then to make such warnings sound like a mere formality, along the lines of: “Before we talk further, I just need to get the following warnings out of the way.”

After spilling his guts — following initially giving the police an alibi — Jordan Diangelo Champion sits in prison convicted of “first-degree murder, in violation of Code § 18.2-32; use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, in violation of Code § 18.2-53.1; and conspiracy to commit a felony, in violation of Code § 18.2-22.” Champion v. VirginiaRecord No. 1596-16-1 (Va. App., Oct. 24, 2017) (unpublished).

Look out for two-step police questioning

Champion argued an unlawful two-step police interrogation process, whereby it seemed that police never intended to release Champion once Champion voluntarily went to the station to talk, but only Mirandized him well into their discussion, after telling Champion that he would not be released. However, Champion did not challenge the trial court’s finding that he was not in custody before being Mirandized, and Champion finds a valid Miranda waiver. Champion.

Unrepresented arrestees talk with police at their own peril

What is the lesson in all this? Do not talk to police when a suspect — even if completely innocent — without the presence and advice of a qualified criminal defense lawyer.

Fairfax criminal lawyer Jon Katz has successfully defended thousands of people charged with felonies, misdemeanors and DUI, since 1991. To discuss your case with Jon, please call his staff at 703-383-1100 for a confidential consultation.