Continued from: Part One: Arrest & Criminal Law
DUI Arrests, Miranda & Police Tactics
The police are not required to obtain a warrant before placing a suspect under arrest for driving under the influence (DUI). Just the mere fact that they smell alcohol on the driver's breath is enough evidence to make the arrest and book them into jail. Most states have what is called an implied consent law. When an individual obtains a driver's license, they agree to submit to a blood, breath or urine test at the request of an officer upon suspicion of driving under the influence. If they refuse to take one of these tests, their license will be suspended for a period of time.
While each state has different implied consent laws, the person arrested for a DUI offense must adhere to the laws where they were arrested. Suppose the suspect has a California driver's license but they were driving in another state. The implied consent applies to the state where they were arrested, not where they obtained their license. Refusing to submit to a chemical test may result in more than just a license suspension. Some states see a refusal as an admission of guilt, thereby increasing the chances of a criminal conviction.
Investigation of the Crime Scene
When a violent crime such as murder has been committed, it is extremely important that the scene be processed correctly. Usually the first time law enforcement becomes aware there is an incident is when someone calls 911 to report a crime. The first responders might include police, paramedics and the fire department if necessary. The primary task of the paramedic is to keep a victim alive while they rush him or her to the nearest hospital for treatment. The basic crime scene protocol normally utilizes the following approach:
Controlling the Scene
The police will cordon off the scene using yellow police tape that says, "CRIME SCENE DO NOT CROSS." Sometimes law enforcement will use other barriers including posting officers outside the scene to make sure that no unwanted individuals get through. Local law enforcement must control the scene by identifying anyone who can help provide information. They must remove anyone who does not belong there. When a crime has been committed, the neighbors often come over to see what happened. These people need to be removed unless they have information relevant to the case. Any pets running loose through the house must be restrained and locked up or temporarily removed. Police officers need to be cognizant of any witnesses at the scene who may inadvertently destroy or alter physical evidence.
When the police arrive at the scene, they need to find people who can provide information regarding what happened. Sometimes these are witnesses who saw something or they could be neighbors that can help establish a pattern of the victim's behavior. If there is a chance that the victim might die, the officers should attempt to obtain a statement from him or her that can be used as a "dying declaration." Witnesses must be questioned in separate locations to determine if their stories differ in any way.
Examining the Scene
While the first responders take notes about witnesses or anything they saw when they first arrived, the case will usually be turned over to an investigator. If it's a murder case, homicide detectives will be called in to take over. A crime scene unit may be called to collect evidence. These professionals will take photographs, fingerprints and use swabs to collect blood evidence. Items will be collected and bagged including shell casings, fibers, footwear and clothing. Forensic evidence may also include bodily fluids, hair, nail scrapings and blood stain patterns. All of this will be processed at the crime scene lab by investigators.
Crime Scene Sketch
Sketches are often used to document the scene. This is usually just a rough drawing that accurately portrays an appearance of the scene. The primary purpose is to relate the sequence of events and establish the precise location of objects at the scene.
A crime scene debriefing team will get together and discuss details about the case. They will try and come up with a theory, establish what else needs to be done and assign responsibilities for the next phase of the case. Sometimes they revisit the scene to see if any evidence was missed or to act out a current theory.
How the Miranda Warning Began
Most Americans are familiar with the term "Miranda rights" because they have watched television shows where the police read the suspect his rights. The Miranda warning came as a direct result of the case Miranda v. Arizona in which a suspect's Constitutional rights were violated. In a landmark ruling in 1966, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the conviction of Ernesto Miranda, citing that he was not allowed to remain silent. He was arrested for stealing $8 from a bank employee and charged with armed robbery. After hours of police questioning, he confessed to kidnapping and raping a young woman just a week and a half earlier. He was never given the opportunity to have legal counsel present during the interrogation.
The jury convicted him based on his confession and he was sentenced to 20 years in prison. He was then given a second trial where the confession was excluded. The jury returned with a guilty verdict and he ended up serving 11 years in state prison. After he was released, just a few years later, he was killed during a bar right. The police made an arrest in the case and the suspect immediately invoked his Miranda right to remain silent. Without enough evidence to prosecute, the case was dropped.
What is the Miranda Warning?
When a person has been placed under arrest, the police are required to read them their rights. The exact wording was never specifically stated in the Supreme Court decision, but the most common Miranda warning states the following:
"You have the right to remain silent. If you give up the right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney and to have them present during questioning. If you wish to have an attorney and cannot afford one, one will be appointed for you at no cost. Do you understand these rights that have been read to you?"
If the officers fail to give the Miranda warning and they question the suspect, anything they say will be inadmissible in a court of law. Once an individual informs the police that he or she wants an attorney, the interrogation must cease immediately. The police can continue their questioning once the person has a lawyer present.
Common Police Tactics
The primary goal of law enforcement is to make an arrest in the case. They work with the District Attorney, who will be prosecuting the case. The methods used by officers to gain confessions are based upon powerful psychological techniques that include the following:
Police will put the suspect in a small room with no windows and a two-way glass mirror that will be used to observe the individual. They will try to empathize with the individual by saying that anybody could commit such a crime in a similar situation. By acting friendly and offering the person a cigarette or a soda, the suspect becomes more relaxed and willingly offers information. In cases where the suspect is a non-emotional offender, the tactics become adversarial. The police will lie to the suspect by saying that they have a witness or evidence that ties them to the crime. It is actually legal for police to lie during an interrogation, but it's a crime for the suspect to lie to police.
Offer a Deal
A representative from the District Attorney's office may even get involved. Prosecutors may be willing to offer a deal if the suspect agrees to testify against another person who was involved in the crime. They will often use friends against each other by saying, "Hey, your pal Joey is in the next room and he says that the whole thing was your idea and you pulled the trigger." This may or may not be true, but it's a powerful way to get someone to confess or incriminate the other person.
Lie Detector Test
Officers will request that the suspect submit to a polygraph test. They will often say, "Well, if you're not guilty, a lie detector test can rule you out immediately." While these are not admissible in court, if the person fails the test, police can use this to get a warrant to search their house or vehicle.
Some people are under the impression that if they talk to police, they can convince them of their innocence. This rarely happens and people should never agree to speak to the police without having a lawyer present, to make sure their rights are protected.