Recording Suspect Interviews in Felony Cases
A law was passed in 2012 requiring the police to record the interrogation of suspects in major felony cases. When police take shortcuts and don’t follow the rules, a defense lawyer can fight to suppress evidence.
Investigation Interviews of Suspects Must Be Recorded in Major Felony Cases
On December 12, 2012, Governor Snyder signed a new law mandating the recording of interviews done during the investigation of suspects arrested or in custody for a serious felony case. Serious felony cases are cases that carry a maximum sentence of 20 years or more. Although recording interviews in felony cases isn’t new, a mandate is a positive step towards ensuring fairness in the most severe cases.
“Interrogation” means questioning, words, or actions in a criminal investigation that may elicit a self-incriminating response from an individual. The new law applies if the law enforcement agency has operational audiovisual recording equipment.
A recording may be made without the consent or knowledge of the suspect. The individual being interrogated has no right to object to the recording. If a recording is made, it shall be produced using equipment and procedures designed to prevent alteration of the recording’s audio or visual record.
Suppose the police fail to record a major felony interrogation correctly. In that case, any law enforcement official who was present during the taking of the statement can still testify in court as to the circumstances and content of the individual’s statement. However, the judge will instruct the jury that recording the statement was required by law. The jury may consider the absence of a recording in evaluating the evidence relating to the individual’s statement.
What should you do if the police want to talk to you?
Most law-abiding clients never consider such circumstances since they do not foresee the possibility of ever having problems with the law. Unfortunately, life is not predictable, and some of us may find ourselves in compromising positions where the police will attempt to speak with us. It is almost always in your best interests not to speak with the police until you have first spoken with an attorney.
Many people who are aware of their rights not to speak to the police waive their Constitutional rights because they are afraid of looking guilty or think they can explain the situation sufficiently that they will not be charged. The truth of the matter is that if the police are questioning someone, they already have formed a belief, and the only thing they are looking for is additional evidence. Anything that does not help the prosecution is ignored and presumed to be a lie.
When you find yourself in need, do not hesitate to exercise your Constitutional rights. Remember, exercising your Constitutional rights under the Fifth Amendment can never be used against you in a criminal case. Thus, if you find yourself in a situation where you don’t want to speak to the police, tell the police, “I want to speak to my lawyer before answering any questions. I invoke my right to remain silent.” A lawyer will rarely consent to a recorded interview in a felony or misdemeanor case.
Michigan Criminal Defense Attorney
If you or someone you love is suspected of committing a crime, do not wait for a warrant to be issued before taking steps to protect yourself. The best defense to a felony or misdemeanor allegation is a good offense. LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. can frequently intervene in a criminal investigation and prevent criminal charges or convince law enforcement not to charge all crimes under consideration.
Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation or complete a Request for Assistance Form. We will contact you promptly and find a way to help you.