State v. Marinez-Garcia

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Post-Conviction Relief
  • Date Filed: 01-25-2017
  • Case #: A157370
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Lagesen, J. for the Court; Ortega, P.J.; & Garrett, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

Under the Fifth Amendment, a trial court may not force a defendant to testify, on pain of contempt, as to his true identity, even when the true identity is unknown to the State and trial court.

Defendant appealed from a conviction on two counts of punitive contempt (ORS 33.125). Defendant assigned error to the trial court’s decision to require him to testify under oath as to his true identity. Defendant argues that the compelled testimony was a violation of his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, as the testimony was used to establish Defendant’s identity in multiple outstanding criminal cases. The state responded that Defendant waived his right against self-incrimination by electing to testify about his identity. The Court held that on the facts of the case, Defendant’s choice to testify was under the threat of contempt charges, and therefore, his waiver was was not voluntary. Although Defendant’s apparent use of multiple names, together with the multiple charging instruments, presented an administrative challenge for the trial court. The Fifth Amendment does not permit a court to resolve such a challenge by compelling a defendant to take the stand and testify, on pain of contempt, to information that may strengthen the state’s case against him or expose him to further criminal liability. Reversed and remanded.  


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