State v. Mendoza

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Procedure
  • Date Filed: 07-09-2014
  • Case #: A148842
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Schuman, S.J. for the Court; Duncan, P.J.; and Wollheim, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

Under Article I, section 12, of the Oregon Constitution, a person’s refusal to consent to something that he or she is not required to do is not admissible at trial.

Defendant appealed his conviction of first-degree forgery for uttering a counterfeit fifty-dollar bill. Defendant tried to use the bill in a bar to pay for two drinks, and the bar staff called the police. The responding officer asked to inspect Defendant’s pockets. Defendant refused, but offered the fifty-dollar bill in question to the officer, who correctly suspected that the bill was counterfeit. The Defendant denied having known that the bill was counterfeit. The officer then arrested Defendant. At a pretrial motion in limine hearing, Defendant moved to exclude the officer’s testimony and the State’s comments, regarding Defendant’s refusal to allow the officer to inspect Defendant’s pockets. The trial court denied the motion. At trial, the officer testified that “a normal person” would have allowed the search, and the State called attention to that testimony during closing arguments. The State argued the testimony was harmless because it would not lead to prejudicial inferences of Defendant’s guilt. Defendant argued that allowing the testimony violated his right against self-incrimination guaranteed under the Oregon Constitution. The Court held that the evidence of Defendant’s constitutionally permitted refusal to submit to the inspection was inadmissible, and admitting it could have created an inference that tended to negate the core of his defense. Reversed and remanded.

Advanced Search