Can you erase a self-incriminating statement in South Carolina?
Oftentimes, a person who has been accused of a crime will make a jailhouse confession under duress or give other incriminating statements to police. Prosecutors then introduce those statements at trial, often resulting in a conviction.
What happens if you said something you wish you hadn’t? You’re probably very worried that you don’t have any kind of defense. There’s no way to turn back the clock and revoke a self-incriminating statement. Fortunately, you canhire an aggressive criminal defense attorney who will try to get the statements thrown out of court. One option that your legal team can help with is to file a motion to suppress these statements because the police didn’t give adequate Miranda warnings or because the statements were coerced.
Inadequate Miranda Warnings
As a result of a 1966 Supreme Court case, Miranda v. Arizona, police must give you four warnings before they start a custodial interrogation. If the police forget to give even one warning, it might be possible to get your statement thrown out. The four warnings are:
- You have the right to remain silent.
- Anything you say can and may be used against you in a court of law.
- You have the right to have an attorney present.
- If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you.
Police don’t have to use these exact words, but they do need to convey the essentials of each warning. If they don’t, your statements, no matter how incriminating, can’t be introduced during the state’s case against you.
Even when police give all Mirandawarnings, a judge can still throw out incriminating statements if the police used coercion, resulting in an involuntary confession. This is a tough standard to meet. Basically, police must have undermined your free will so that you said something you normally wouldn’t have. Every situation is different, but a judge will look at the following factors:
- Your age. If you’re a minor (under 18), then an interrogation is more likely to be coercive.
- The length of the interrogation. The longer it goes on, the less likely a confession was voluntary.
- The location of the interrogation. For example, an interrogation at a police station is more coercive than an interrogation at your home.
- Your health. If you were in any way ill—such as suffering a diabetic shock or in physical pain—then an interrogation is more likely to be coercive.
- Your mental state. If you suffer from mental illness or disability, then an interrogation is more likely to be coercive.
- Whether police threatened or physically attacked you. In this situation, a statement is almost always thrown out.
- Whether police denied you food, water, or a bathroom break.
Apart from physical violence or threats, no single factor will get your statement thrown out. But if several factors are present, then you have a very strong case that your confession was involuntary.
Minimizing the Damage
Sometimes, statements can’t be thrown out—the police gave proper Miranda warnings and the statement wasn’t coerced. Nevertheless, you still have options.
Often, your incriminating statements only need a little context to look a lot less damaging. For example, you might have admitted to punching your girlfriend—but you did it only in self-defense after she attacked you first. Or you might have been caught distributing drugs—but you did so only because your boyfriend threatened you if you didn’t help him make deliveries.
Contact a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Columbia, South Carolina
If you are concerned about statements you have made that might be held against you, it is important to seek legal representation. William A. Hodge, attorney at law can help you build a strong defense to protect you against damaging statements. Call me today at 803-457-2216 or use my online contact form to schedule your consultation.