State v. Nichols

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Constitutional Law
  • Date Filed: 03-02-2017
  • Case #: S063985
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Balmer, C.J. for the Court; En Banc.
  • Full Text Opinion

Under Article I, section 12, if a suspect unequivocally invokes his or her right against compelled self-incrimination during a custodial interrogation, then police must honor that request and stop the interrogation. The statement is sufficient if a reasonable officer would understand the statement to be an invocation of the rights against self-incrimination.

The State appealed a pretrial order suppressing evidence in a pending murder prosecution. The trial court determined that Defendant equivocally invoked his right against compelled self-incrimination under the Oregon Constitution, but the State failed to clarify Defendant's intent and continued with the interrogation. The Court first determined that Defendant had voluntarily waived his rights, however the issue raised on appeal was whether Defendant later re-invoked his rights. The Court in its analysis focused on whether Defendant made an "unequivocal invocation" of his right, as a matter of law. Defendant argued that his statement "[i]t's not something I want to talk about" were sufficient to invoke his rights under the constitution. The State, however, argued that his wording was too ambiguous, and this did not amount to an "unequivocal" invocation. Article I, section 12, establishes a right against compelled self-incrimination. If a suspect unequivocally invokes his or her right against compelled self-incrimination during a custodial interrogation, then police must honor that request and stop the interrogation. The statement is sufficient if a reasonable officer would understand the statement to be an invocation of the rights against self-incrimination. The Court ultimately concluded that when analyzing the statements within the context of the interrogation, the statement was sufficient because a reasonable officer would have understood the statement to be an invocation. Affirmed. 

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