Texas Appeals Court Rejects Defendant’s Miranda Claim

The United States Constitution protects Texans accused of crimes from being required to give any statement that could incriminate them. Under the Supreme Court precedent set by the case of Miranda v. Arizona, all criminal suspects or defendants must be advised that they have the right to remain silent and are not required to answer questions by law enforcement. If a suspect is questioned without being given a Miranda warning, incriminating statements made during questioning may not be used against the suspect in their prosecution. Although Miranda rights are enshrined in federal law, defendants still must make an objection to the admission of any evidence that was obtained in violation of Miranda. The Texas Court of Appeals recently addressed a defendant’s claim that he was illegitimately convicted of firearm and drug offenses because he was not given his Miranda rights prior to his making incriminating statements that were used in the trial against him.

The defendant in the recently decided case was stopped while driving a vehicle in Harris County. According to the facts discussed in the appellate opinion, the defendant was stopped because a law enforcement officer ran his license plates, and the system showed that he had outstanding traffic warrants. After the stop, the defendant was advised to go to the courthouse with the arresting officer to pay the warrants and be released. As the defendant exited his car, the officer allegedly saw a small baggie that appeared to contain narcotics and questioned the defendant about the contents of the bag. Ultimately, the defendant admitted that the narcotics belonged to him, and also admitted that there was a firearm in the car. All of these statements were made by the defendant without him first being told his Miranda rights.

The defendant ultimately stood trial for possession of cocaine, as well as the illegal possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Before trial, the defendant’s attorney moved the court to suppress the physical evidence obtained in the search based on a claim that the initial traffic stop was not justified. The defense motion was denied, and the defendant was convicted of the charges against him, in part because of the statements that he made claiming ownership of the illegal drugs and guns before his arrest.

The defendant appealed his conviction, arguing that his statements to the arresting officer should not have been admitted at trial, as he was never read his Miranda rights before he incriminated himself. On appeal, the court was sympathetic to the defendant’s argument that he should have been read his Miranda rights before being questioned, however, his conviction was upheld because his trial attorney failed to specifically object to the admission of the defendant’s statements before they were admitted by the trial court. The high court found that an objection to the admission of evidence must be made explicitly at the time the evidence is offered in order for the admission to be successfully challenged on appeal. Because the defendant’s trial attorney failed to properly object to the arresting officer’s illegal questioning, the defendant’s conviction will stand.

Are Prosecutors Planning on Using Your Statement Against You?

If you or someone you know has been arrested or charged with a drug crime in Texas, or any other criminal offense, there is a good chance that some of the evidence to be admitted in your prosecution should not be allowed to be considered by the court. Suppressing inadmissible evidence can be difficult, as the proper objection must be made for the court to rule on the issue, and failure to make a timely objection can prevent a flawed trial court ruling from being reversed on appeal. The experienced criminal defense attorneys with Guest and Gray have the trial experience to properly make and preserve objections to prosecutors’ illegitimate conduct. Our dedicated Texas criminal defense lawyers will ensure that any evidence obtained against you illegally is kept away from the jury or judge before your case is tried. With our representation, you can be comfortable that even an erroneous decision by a trial court can be successfully challenged on appeal. Contact our offices at 972-564-4644 and schedule a free consultation today.

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