State v. Avila-Nava

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Procedure
  • Date Filed: 12-26-2014
  • Case #: S061802
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Brewer, J. for the Court; En Banc
  • Full Text Opinion

In determining whether a defendant's words constituted an unequivocal invocation of the right against self-incrimination under Article I, section 12, a reviewing court must consider those words, in context of the totality of the circumstances existing at the time of and preceding their utterance, to determine whether a reasonable officer would have understood that the defendant was invoking that right.

Defendant was wanted as a suspect in a robbery and was arrested during a traffic stop. The officer read Miranda warnings in Spanish because the Defendant indicated he did not speak English. Defendant acknowledged that he understood his rights and was transported to the police station. At the station, Defendant was interviewed in Spanish. Defendant asked a few questions regarding whether he had to answer the questions. The officer read the Miranda warnings in Spanish a few more times and allowed the Defendant to read the Miranda warnings from a prepared card himself. At trial, Defendant moved to suppress Defendant's statements and argued that the officer was required to terminate the questioning when the Defendant said, "I won't answer any questions." The trial court denied the motion to suppress and Defendant was convicted. The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded. The Supreme Court found that there was no evidence to support the argument that the Defendant's words could have been understood as a question. The Court also found no evidence to support the argument that the words spoken could have been seen as confusion about the right against self-incrimination. Further, the Court found no evidence to support a finding that the Defendant didn't unequivocally invoke his right to remain silent. The Court of Appeals decision is affirmed.

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