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NCJ Number: 202161 Find in a Library
Title: Civil Liability for Violations of Miranda: The Impact of Chavez v. Martinez
Journal: FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin  Volume:72  Issue:9  Dated:September 2003  Pages:28-32
Author(s): Kimberly A. Crawford J.D.
Date Published: September 2003
Page Count: 5
Sponsoring Agency: NCJRS Photocopy Services
Rockville, MD 20849-6000
Sale Source: NCJRS Photocopy Services
Box 6000
Rockville, MD 20849-6000
United States of America
Document: HTML
Type: Issue Overview
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article discusses the effects of the case Chavez v. Martinez on officer liability and interrogation strategies that employ intentional violations of the rule in Miranda v. Arizona.
Abstract: The Supreme Court’s decision in Chavez essentially foreclosed the possibility of a successful civil suit being brought against law enforcement officers for simple, unintentional violations of Miranda. The practical result of this decision is that statements taken in violation of Miranda that are suppressed, or otherwise never used to prosecute, do not violate the fifth amendment Self-Incrimination Clause and cannot support a successful civil suit alleging a violation unless the plaintiff is able to make the unlikely “powerful showing” that suppression of the statement is not sufficient to remedy the violation. The issue before the Court was whether taking of a statement without required Miranda warnings constituted a violation of the fifth amendment protection against compelled self-incrimination if it is never used in a criminal case. The decision is very complex. As a result, there is no clear rule of law that can be derived from this quagmire. It is unlikely that unintentional violations of Miranda will result in successful civil suits. It is unquestionable that intentional violations of Miranda will continue to spur future civil actions against law enforcement officers. There may be times when the risk of civil liability arguably is outweighed by the need for governmental action. A strategy that calls for an intentional violation of Miranda should not be left to the discretion of an individual officer. The formulation of such a strategy should involve the highest levels of management. Management should seek the advice of competent legal counsel well versed on Miranda law. 26 endnotes
Main Term(s): Miranda rights; Police due process training
Index Term(s): Arrest procedures; Civil liability; Civil litigation; Constitutional Rights/Civil Liberties; Police legal limitations; Rights of the accused
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