Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Case Update: People v. Rios - Implied Waiver of Rights to Silence & Counsel

In People v. Rios, the California Court of Appeals held that where a defendant impliedly waived his rights to silence and counsel, subsequent admissions were admissible. In that case, Defendant Rios was arrested and placed in the back of a patrol car. He was advised of his Miranda rights by a deputy, who did not ask for a waiver. The deputy then left the patrol car for 5 to 10 minutes. When he returned, he questioned Rios, who then made incriminating statements. The trial court found that Rios had been properly advised of and waived his Miranda rights, and denied the defendant's motion to exclude the statements. On appeal from his subsequent conviction, Rios contended that admission of the statements was reversible error because the prosecution failed to show that he waived his rights to silence and to counsel. He argued that the deputy's interrogation technique of not soliciting a waiver of rights was similar to the tactics disallowed by J. Souter's plurality opinion in Missouri v. Seibert (2004) 542 U.S.
600, because it undermined the Miranda decision. However, the appellate court disagreed and affirmed his conviction. The Court concluded that nothing in Seibert abrogated the rule articulated in North Carolina v. Butler (1979) 441 U.S. 3 69, which allows for a trial court to find an in-custody accused has impliedly waived his Miranda rights. Here, the trial court looked to the totality of the circumstances surrounding the interrogation and properly concluded that Rios had waived his rights. Rios was advised of his rights and said he understood them, he did not ask the deputy any questions, he was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and he readily answered the deputy's questions. Thus, the Court resolved there was no indication he invoked his Miranda rights and determined that substantial evidence supported the trial court's finding that the admissions were admissible.

People v. Rios, District: 2 DCA , Division: 5 , Case # B208573
Opinion Dated 11/19/2009