Supreme Court Addresses Possible Time Limit to Miranda Rights

The Baltimore Sun reports in an article that the Supreme Court has begun discussion in the Maryland v. Shatzer case. The case relates to a child sexual abuse investigation from 2003, in which a man was questioned about molesting a young relative. He asked for an attorney, but he was not provided one, so the case was dropped. Later in 2006, the investigation began again and the man was again questioned. Even though he confessed to lewd acts with the boy in 2006 and was convicted, an appeals court decided that his confession was inadmissible due to the prior request for an attorney made in 2003.

At the heart of the case is the lack of distinction as to how long the request for an attorney should last when a suspect is being interrogated. Statements made by an accused person may be deemed inadmissible if they are made after requesting an attorney to be present and such statements are made when an attorney is not present. Therefore, as it stands currently, a break in custody, even if that break lasts for years, does not erase a request for an attorney.

According to the report, a Maryland Attorney General believes that allowing the decision to throw out Shatzer’s confession is likely to lead to chaos in police investigations. He stated, “A defendant who invokes anywhere at any time is forever immune from being questioned by the police.”

The main question at hand pertains to whether or not asserting or invoking the right to legal counsel lasts indefinitely, or if the invocation of such rights should have certain limitations, especially if there is a break in custody or a substantial lapse of time in between interrogations.

This case has the potential to influence the degree of protection interrogation suspects can anticipate. Some U.S. citizens and defense attorneys are concerned about whether the ruling will put those being interrogated at a heightened risk of having their rights violated by excessive pressure from law enforcement if subjective timelines are created.

As criminal defense lawyers in Maryland, we will monitor the progression of this case and what affects the ending result will have on the rights of citizens and the interrogation process of law enforcement. If you have been accused of a criminal offense in the State of Maryland, the skilled Bowie criminal defense attorneys at Alpert Schreyer can help to defend your rights and conduct a thorough investigation of your case. Contact our criminal defense attorneys today for a free case evaluation by calling 866-444-6363.

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About Andrew Alpert

+Andrew is one of the leading DUI and criminal defense attorneys in both the state of Maryland and the District of Columbia. He blogs about Maryland DUI law, has numerous videos on the subject and has been asked to appear on national television to offer his legal opinion on high-profile criminal cases.