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Court of Appeals limits necessary warnings for suspect in standoff

A state appeals court ruled recently that a suspect who was barricaded in his home was not entitled to Miranda warnings before he spoke on the phone with a detective who was trying to end the standoff. The man was suspected as a possible culprit in the death of his father and had barricaded himself in his home when police arrived to arrest him and begin questioning.

Most Chicago readers are familiar with the basic premise of the Miranda warnings, whether they know it by name or not. The Miranda warnings tell suspects or others who are taken into police custody in connection with a crime that they have the constitutional right to remain silent as a part of 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination.

In addition, Miranda warnings require police to advise those in custody that statements could be used against them during a criminal proceeding, and that they have the right to counsel from an attorney. The carefully thought out Miranda warnings are designed to make sure that people don't disclose information to police involuntarily or without a full understanding of the potential consequences.

One of the crucial elements to whether police must issue these warnings to someone is whether that person is in police custody or not. In this recent case, the question was whether the man, barricaded in his own home but surrounded by police, was in custody in the legal sense of the term. The court said that he was not, since the statements were made not to police outside his door, but to a detective who he called voluntarily at least twice.

While this case does not influence law in Illinois, it does bring up some important and subtle nuances of the criminal justice process that are not familiar to many, even those who can recite the Miranda warnings from memory. The bottom line in many of these situations is often that seeking the advice and services of an experienced criminal defense attorney before making statements of any kind to police is often the best course of action.

Source: Sun Sentinel, "Court rules barricaded suspects not entitled to Miranda warning," Rafael Olmeda, March 14, 2013.

More information about how to react to allegations of a violent crime can be found on our Cook County criminal defense page.

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