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What is a Motion to Suppress Statements?

A Motion to Suppress is a motion filed with the court in an effort to have specific evidence thrown out of court due to a constitutional violation.  A Motion to Suppress can be used to suppress statements made by a defendant or to have physical evidence thrown out of court.  Through a motion to suppress, the defense will argue that the evidence that they are seeking to suppress was obtained in violation of the defendant’s constitutional rights.

In the case where the defense is seeking to suppress a statement, the defense would argue that the statement was obtained in violation of the defendant’s Fifth Amendment right against self incrimination.  A motion to suppress is a powerful tool used by the defense to eliminate potential damaging evidence from the government’s case.

Below is an example of a Motion to Suppress Statements.

 

MOTION TO SUPPRESS STATEMENTS OF DEFENDANT

The Defendant, XXXXXXXX, by and through the undersigned attorney, pursuant to Rule 3.190(i), Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure, moves this Honorable Court to suppress as evidence in this cause the following evidence:

  1. Statements solicited by law enforcement as a result of interrogation of Mr. XXXXXXXXX that were obtained in violation of the defendant’s 5th amendment Miranda rights.

As grounds for this motion, the defendant would show the following general statement of the facts upon which this motion is based:

  1. On July 19, 2007 Mr. XXXXXXXXX was indicted by a Grand Jury and charged with two counts of XXXXXXXXXXX.

  2. Mr. XXXXXXXXXX was arrested in Jamaica and extradited to the United States on September 10, XXXX.

  3. On September 10, XXXX, Mr. XXXXXXXX was interrogated by Fort Lauderdale Police Detective XXXXXX.

  4. The entire interrogation took place in an interrogation room at the police station while Mr. XXXXXXXXXX was handcuffed and shackled.

  5. The interrogation began with Det. XXXXXX getting Mr. XXXXXXXXXX’s biographical information.

  6. This biographical questioning was done prior to the issuance of Miranda.

  7. During this questioning, Det. XXXXXX begins to question Mr. XXXXXXXXXX concerning his family, his relationships with his girlfriend and his children, his feelings concerning the alleged incident and his time in Jamaica.

  8. After this questioning ceases, Det. XXXXXX indicates that he wishes to turn the focus of the interrogation to the alleged incident.

  9. It is at this time that Det. XXXXXX, for the first time, advises Mr. XXXXXXXX of his rights per Miranda which he read from a prepared text.

  10. At the end of the text, Det. XXXXXX asks Mr. XXXXXXXXXX if he understands the rights that he has just been read.

  11. Mr. XXXXXXXXXX indicates that he understands the rights that were read to him.

  12. It should be noted that Det. XXXXXX never questioned Mr. XXXXXXXXXX as to if he wished to waive the rights that have been read to him nor did he obtain a written waiver of said rights.

  13. Det. XXXXXX then began a series of questions concerning the incident.

  14. In response to the direct questioning, Mr. XXXXXXXXXX remained silent, neither answering verbally or by physical action.

  15. After repeated questions and repeated silence on behalf of the defendant, Mr. XXXXXXXXXX finally answered a question concerning the nature of the relationship he had with one of the alleged victims.

  16. This was followed by further questioning by Det. XXXXXX, to which Mr. XXXXXXXXXX again remained silent and chose not to answer.

  17. In response to the continued silence, Det. XXXXXX persisted to question Mr. XXXXXXXXXX concerning the alleged incident.

  18. In response to the relentless questioning by Det. XXXXXX, Mr. XXXXXXXXXX answered a question in a mumbled response.

  19. It is at that time that Det. XXXXXX asked Mr. XXXXXXXXXX, “will you please share with me what you saw through your own eyes.”

  20. Mr. XXXXXXXXXX responded to this direct question concerning his willingness to speak by shaking his head no and stating, “No, I don’t want to.” (exchange found at 45:27 on the recorded interogation)

  21. Det. XXXXXX disregarded Mr. XXXXXXXXXX’s unequivocal request to remain silent and continued his interrogation.

  22. During the continued interrogation, Mr. XXXXXXXXXX made repeated unequivocal requestes to remain silent.  At 48:58 of the recorded interrogation, Mr. XXXXXXXXXX again states “I don’t wanna talk.”

  23. Moreover, at 50:25 of the recorded interrogation, Mr. XXXXXXXXXX clearly states, “I don’t wanna talk.”  In response to this statement, Det. XXXXXX says, “I know you don’t wanna talk about it XXXXXX but…”

  24. At 51:57 Mr. XXXXXXXXXX states “I don’t wanna talk.”

  25. At 57:43 Mr. XXXXXXXXXX again states “I don’t wanna talk.”

  26. At 1:21:30, in response to a period of silence, Det. XXXXXX states, “I know you don’t wanna talk about it but…”

  27. At 1:58:38 Mr. XXXXXXXXXX states “I don’t want to” while shaking his head in a manner to indicate no in response to an invitation to speak.

  28. At 1:59:15, Mr. XXXXXXXXXX clearly states, “I don’t wanna talk no more.”

  29. At 2:13:50, Mr. XXXXXXXXXX again states “I don’t wanna talk” to which Det. XXXXXX responds, “I know that you don’t want to, I know…”

  30. At 2:14:52, Mr. XXXXXXXX again repeats, “I don’t wanna talk.”

  31. At 2:15:26, Mr. XXXXXXXXXX again repeats, “I don’t wanna talk about it.”

  32. Finally at 2:29:47, Mr. XXXXXXXXXX again states, I don’t wanna talk no more about the case.”

As grounds for this motion, the Defendant would show that the aforementioned evidence, the custodial statements taken in violation of Miranda, was obtained by law enforcement officers in violation of the Defendant’s rights guaranteed by the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and Article I, Section 9 of the Florida Constitution, in that:

  1. The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects a person accused of a crime from being compelled by the State to provide evidence against himself. The United States Supreme Court in Miranda v Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (U.S. 1966) established prophylactic procedures intended to protect that right, which included requiring authorities to articulate, before custodial interrogation commences, four warnings now thoroughly ingrained in police procedure: (1) that the individual has the right to remain silent, (2) that anything the person says may be used in court, (3) that the individual has the right to have an attorney present during questioning, and (4) that if the individual cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for him before questioning.  To trigger the protections that the Miranda court set out, a subject of police questioning must be (1) in police custody and (2) be subject to police interrogation.

  2. The United States Supreme Court in Miranda, stated that, “After such warnings have been given, and such opportunity afforded him, the individual may knowingly and intelligently waive these rights and agree to answer questions or make a statement. But unless and until such warnings and waiver are demonstrated by the prosecution at trial, no evidence obtained as a result of interrogation can be used against him.”

  3. Custodial interrogation is questioning initiated by law enforcement officers after a person has been taken into custody or otherwise deprived of his freedom of action in any significant way. Rhode Island v Innis 446 U.S. 291 (U.S. 1980).  The most import question is whether a reasonable person in the defendant’s position would have felt that he was at liberty to terminate the interrogation and leave. Duddles v State, 845 So.2d 939

  4. The second part of the Miranda analysis is determining what constitutes interrogation.  “Interrogation” for Miranda purposes was defined by the 1st District Court of Appeals of Florida as occurring when “an individual in custody is subject to express questioning or its functional equivalent.” Moore v State, 798 So.2d 50 (Fla. 1st DCA 2001); Everett v. State, 893 So. 2d 1278 (Fla. 2004).

  5. A defendant may waive the Miranda rights provided the waiver is made voluntarily, knowingly, and intelligently. Whether the rights were validly waived must be ascertained from two separate inquiries. First, the relinquishment of the right must have been voluntary in the sense that it was the product of free and deliberate choice rather than intimidation, coercion, or deception. Second, the waiver must have been made with a full awareness of both the nature of the right being abandoned and the consequences of the decision to abandon it. Only if the totality of the circumstances surrounding the interrogation reveal both an uncoerced choice and the requisite level of comprehension may a court properly conclude that the Miranda rights have been waived. Ramirez v. State, 739 So. 2d 568 (Fla. 1999).

  6. In Miranda v Arizone case, the court held that no effective waiver of the right to counsel during interrogation can be recognized unless specifically made after the warnings herein delineated have been given.  There the court established the rule that to execute a valid waiver, the suspect must expressly waive the rights that he is afforded.  To establish a valid waiver, the state must show that the suspect did so voluntarily, knowingly and intelligently.  It is only through an awareness of these consequences that there can by any assurance of real understanding and intelligent exercise of the privilege.

  7. The court in Miranda, further stated that, “Presuming waiver from a silent record is impermissible. The record must show, or there must be an allegation and evidence which show, that an accused was offered counsel but intelligently and understandingly rejected the offer. Anything less is not waiver.”

  8. The State bears the burden of proving that the waiver of the Miranda rights was knowing, intelligent, and voluntary. “[W]here a confession is obtained after the administration of the Miranda warnings, the State bears a “‘heavy burden'” to demonstrate that the defendant knowingly and intelligently waived his or her privilege against self-incrimination and the right to counsel…”Ramirez v. State, 739 So. 2d 568 (Fla. 1999).

  9. The totality of the circumstances to be considered in determining whether a waiver of Miranda warnings is valid may include factors that are also considered in determining whether the confession itself is voluntary. The factors that are relevant include: (1) the manner in which the Miranda rights were administered, including any cajoling or trickery; (2) the suspect’s age, experience, background and intelligence; (3) if the suspect is a juvenile, the fact that the suspect’s parents were not contacted and the suspect was not given an opportunity to consult with his parents before questioning; (4) the fact that the questioning took place in the station house; and (5) the fact that the interrogators did not secure a written waiver of the Miranda rights at the outset. Ramirez v. State, 739 So. 2d 568 (Fla. 1999)

  10. In the present case, Mr. XXXXXXXXXX never waived his Miranda rights as was required prior to any questioning.  The facts of the case are clear; Detective XXXXXX read Mr. XXXXXXXXXX his rights per Miranda and asked him if he understood the rights.  Mr. XXXXXXXXXX indicated that he understood the rights but never made any statement or indication that he wished to waive his rights. Detective XXXXXX never asked Mr. XXXXXXXXXX in any manner if he wished to waive his rights and answer questions regarding the incident.

  11. After reading Mr. XXXXXXXXXX his rights, Detective XXXXXX went right into questioning about the facts of case. At no point during this time did Detective XXXXXX even attempt to determine if Mr. XXXXXXXX wished to speak.  In fact, Mr. XXXXXXXXXX remained silent in response to most of the initial questioning.  Mr. XXXXXXXXXX’s silence is an indication that he wished to remained silent and not answer any questions, this coupled with the fact that he never expressly waived his rights and the fact that he repeatedly stated that he didn’t want to talk clearly demonstrates that there was not a valid waiver of rights prior to questioning.

  12. Moreover, there was no rights waiver form executed in this case at any time.  Although a written rights waiver form is not a necessary prerequisite to a valid waiver, the fact that such a form was not executed further strengthens Mr. XXXXXXXXXX’s argument that he did not waive his rights prior to or during the lengthy custodial interrogation.

  13. The law is clear that being informed of your Miranda rights is not enough to constitute a valid waiver.  Mr. XXXXXXXXXX must have both understood his rights and waived his rights.  There are no facts to support a waiver in this case.  There is no written waiver form, at no time did Mr. XXXXXXXX expressly state that he wished to make any statements nor did he make any indication that he wished to make any statements.  In actuality, the facts indicate a reluctance to speak.  Without a valid waiver, any statements elicited during the custodial interrogation must be suppressed as they were taken in violation of Mr. XXXXXXXXXX’s 5th amendment right.

  14. After a suspect invokes his or her Miranda rights, police officers are prohibited from engaging in words or actions that the officers “should know are reasonably likely to elicit an incriminating response from the suspect.” Rhode Island v. Innis, 446 U.S. 291 (1980). The prohibition on further questioning applies not only when the defendant requests counsel, but also when the defendant exercises his or her right to remain silent. See Traylor, 596 So. 2d at 966.

  15. The Florida Supreme Court in, Traylor v State, 596 So. 2d 957(Fla. 1992) interpreted article I, section 9 of the Florida Constitution as standing for the simple proposition that “if the suspect indicates in any manner that he or she does not want to be interrogated, interrogation must not begin or, if it has already begun, must immediately stop.”

  16. Art. I, § 9, Fla. Const. stands for the simple proposition that if a suspect indicates in any manner that he or she does not want to be interrogated, interrogation must not begin or, if it has already begun, must immediately stop.  Similarly, the United States Supreme Court has held that the admissibility of statements obtained after the person in custody has decided to remain silent depends under Miranda on whether his right to cut off questioning was scrupulously honored. However, the Supreme Court has also concluded that once a defendant waives his or her right to remain silent, subsequent equivocal requests to terminate an interrogation do not automatically require police to cut off all questioning. Cuervo v. State, 967 So. 2d 155 (Fla. 2007)

  17. In Martin v. State, 987 So. 2d 1240 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2008) the defendant argued that his statements should have been suppressed because he had invoked his right to remain silent and the detective questioning him failed to terminate the interrogation. After the defendant was given his Miranda rights, he indicated that he had nothing to say. The detective pursued the interrogation. Defendant’s later statement that he had nothing more to say was also ignored. Defendant’s invocation of his right to remain silent was unequivocal and the interrogation should have been terminated. Because the detective should have terminated questioning when defendant invoked his right to remain silent, the court held that the trial court should have suppressed the challenged statements.

  18. Similarly, in Dubon v. State, 982 So. 2d 746 (Fla.1st DCA 2008) during police questioning, the defendant stated at least three times, “I have nothing to say”; yet, officers continued to question him until he confessed. The court found that the defendant’s statement is indistinguishable from the comment “I do not want to declare anything,” which was held by the Florida Supreme Court to invoke a defendant’s right to remain silent in Cuervo v. State, 967 So. 2d 155 (Fla. 2007). Thus, the court held that the continued questioning violated the defendant’s right to remain silent, and rendered his subsequent statement involuntary.

  19. In the present case, it is clear that Mr. XXXXXXXXXX invoked his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent.  After Mr. XXXXXXXXXX was read his rights per Miranda, and stated that he understood his rights, he remained silent in response to multiple questions for a continued period of time.  This silence was a clear invocation and indication that Mr. XXXXXXXXXX was exercising his right to remain silent and not to answer any questions.

  20. The facts further indicate that in response to Det. XXXXXX’s direct questions for Mr. XXXXXXXXXX to tell his side of the story, Mr. XXXXXXXX stated, “No, I don’t want to,” while shaking his head to indicate that he didn’t want to speak. (exchange found at 45:27 on the recorded interogation).  Det. XXXXXX disregarded Mr. XXXXXXXXXX’s unequivocal request to remain silent and continued his interrogation in violation of Mr. XXXXXXXX’s fifth amendment right to remain silent.

  21. During the continued interrogation, Mr. XXXXXXXXXX made repeated unequivocal requestes to remain silent.  At 48:58 of the recorded interrogation, Mr. XXXXXXXXXX again states “I don’t wanna talk.  At 50:25 of the recorded interrogation, Mr. XXXXXXXXXX clearly states, “I don’t wanna talk.”  In response to this statement, Det. XXXXXX says, “I know you don’t wanna talk about it XXXXXXXX but…”

  22. On eleven (11) different occasions during the interrogation, Mr. XXXXXXX says that he doesn’t want to talk.  Moreover, at least twice during the interrogation, Det. XXXXXX states that he knows that Mr. XXXXXXXXXX doesn’t want to talk but continues the interrogation.  The record of the interrogation makes it abundantly clear that Mr. XXXXXXXX invoked his right to remain silent numerous times; that Det. XXXXXX knew that Mr. XXXXXXXXXX wished to remain silent and that Det. XXXXXX did not honor Mr. XXXXXXXXXX’s unequivocal invocation of his right to remain silent.

  23. Mr. XXXXXXXXXX’s repeated statement of, “I don’t want to “ in response to direct requests to speak and tell his side of the story along with his other repeated statements of “I don’t want to talk…” are indistinguishable from those invocations in Dubon and Cuervo.  In Dubon,  the defendant stated at least three times, “I have nothing to say”; and in Cuervo, the defendant stated “I do not want to declare anything.”   In both of those cases, the court found that the defendant had made an unequivocal invocation of his right to remain silent and that the police violated their constitutional rights when they did not honor the invocation.

  24. There is no question that Mr. XXXXXXXXXX was attempting to invoke his right to remain silent when Det. XXXXXX began the interrogation.  Det. XXXXXX made a long plea to Mr. XXXXXXXXXX to tell his side of the story when he stated, “will you please share with me what you saw through your own eyes.”  Immediately after this questions/plea, Mr. XXXXXXXXXX clearly told Det. XXXXXX, “No I don’t want to.” while shaking his head to indicate a response of no.   This was a direct answer to a direct question.  There can be no doubt that Mr. XXXXXXXXXX was invoking his right to remain silent.

  25. Furthermore, after repeated attempts to invoke his right to remain silent Mr. XXXXXXXXXX clearly stated again, “I don’t wanna talk.”  In response to this statement, Det. XXXXXX says, “I know you don’t wanna talk about it XXXXXX but…”

  26. Det. XXXXXX’s response is a clear indication that Mr. XXXXXXXXXX was make an unambiguous and unequivocal invocation of his right to remain silent.  There can be no doubt or argument that Det. XXXXXX didn’t know that Mr. XXXXXXXXXX wanted to invoke his right to remain silent.  The fact remains that on eleven (11) different occasion Mr. XXXXXXXXXX tried to invoke his right to remain silent and on two of those occasion Det. XXXXXX stated that he knew that Mr. XXXXXXXXXX didn’t want to speak but continued to question him anyway.

  27. The violations of Mr. XXXXXXXXXX’s rights are not only blatant but numerous.  Interrogations of this nature are inherently unconstitutional.  At no point did Mr. XXXXXXXXXX ever waive his right to remain silent and his repeated attempts to invoke that right were ignored.  All statements obtained from this unconstitutional interrogation must be suppressed as they were achieved through an illegal interrogation.

WHEREFORE, it is respectfully requested that this Honorable court suppress as evidence in this matter the aforementioned statement collected by the police based upon the foregoing grounds.