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Search Warrant Exceptions - Essay Example

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According to Section 3501 of the 18 USC, confessions, in criminal procedure may refer “to confessions of guilt of any criminal offense or any self-incriminating statement made or given orally or in writing.” Admissions, on the other hand, refer to any confession other than…
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Running Head: Admissions and Confessions Search Warrant Exceptions By Admissions and Confessions According to Section 3501 of the 18 USC, confessions, in criminal procedure may refer “to confessions of guilt of any criminal offense or any self-incriminating statement made or given orally or in writing.” Admissions, on the other hand, refer to any confession other than that made by the accused in a criminal case. Admissions and confessions are statements which have the effect of giving adverse consequences to a person’s case. According to the case of Bruton v US, 391 US 123, confessions can be the most damaging evidence against an individual. The US Supreme Court therefore, crafted several legal doctrines incorporated through several cases that guarantee that a person’s confession does not violate his rights enshrined in the Fifth (on self-incrimination) and Sixth Amendment (rights of the accused) of the Constitution (Brown 2001 p 151). To illustrate this, an instance of confession was culled from a leading US daily and discussed how it will likely impact on the concerned individual’s case, once it goes into trial.
In the July 18, 2009 issue of The Washington Post, a news article entitled “Friends Shocked as Man Charged in Wife’s Murder” appeared. It narrated an incident which happened aboard the Carnival Elation cruise ship while it was on its way to Los Angeles after a five-day cruise. A woman was found dead in one of the cabins’ bathroom strangled and with blunt injuries in the head and torso. The FBI which intercepted the cruise ship while at sea was able to draw out a confession from the woman’s husband admitting that it was him who killed his wife using his bare hands. It turned out that the couple, who were married in 2003, was taking the luxurious five-day Mexican cruise to celebrate their 55th birthdays, only a few days apart from each other.
The state in the event the case goes to court, should prove that the confession was valid and admissible in court to qualify its use against the husband. According to the book Criminal Investigation: Law and Practice, there are three tests to determine whether such confession is admissible in court: the due process or voluntariness test; the right to counsel test, and; the Fifth Amendment privilege against incrimination test. During the trial, the state must prove that the confession obtained from the husband was given without any coercion whatsoever otherwise the defense has the right to object to its admission and move for its suppression. Coercion here refers to either physical (Brown v Mississippi, 297 US 278 [1936]), emotional or psychological (Spano v New York, 360 US 315 [1959]. The voluntariness of the confession is evaluated by the Court despite the administration of the Miranda Doctrine (Brown 2001 pp 151-152).
It is evident that the husband did not have the advice of the counsel at any stage during the FBI interrogation which took place while the cruise ship was in the middle of the sea. This could be explored by the defense counsel during the trial to move for the suppression of the confession unless this right was validly waived by him. The right to counsel of a person under interrogation has been upheld many times in cases like Escobedo v Illinois, 378 US 478 (1964), Massiah v US 377 US 201 (1964) and Minnick v Mississippi, 498 US 146 (1990) (Brown 2001 pp 152-154).
Finally, the interrogating officers (FBI) must prove that the husband was apprised of his Miranda rights under the Fifth Amendment privilege against incrimination test. This means that the FBI should have informed the husband before questioning that he has “the right to remain silent, that anything he says may be used against him in a court of law, that he has the right to have an attorney present before and during the questioning, that he has the right to a free attorney appointed if he cannot afford to hire one.” If the husband waives these rights after the FBI has ascertained whether he has understood them, then the confession becomes admissible in court.
References
Brown, Michael (2001). Criminal Investigation: Law and Practice F. Ed 2, illus. Butterworth-Heinemann.
Flaccus, Gillian (2009). Friends Shocked as LA Man Charged in Wifes Murder. Washinton Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/07/18/AR2009071800237.html Read More
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