WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that suspects must tell police explicitly that they want to be silent to invoke Miranda protections during criminal interrogations, a decision one dissenting justice said turns defendants’ rights “upside down.”
A right to remain silent and a right to a lawyer are the first of the Miranda rights warnings, which police recite to suspects during arrests and interrogations. But the justices said in a 5-4 decision that suspects must tell police they are going to remain silent to stop an interrogation, just as they must tell police that they want a lawyer.
The ruling comes in a case in which a suspect, Van Chester Thompkins, remained mostly silent for a three-hour police interrogation before implicating himself in a Jan. 10, 2000, murder in Southfield, Mich. He appealed his conviction, saying that he invoked his Miranda right to remain silent by remaining silent.
But Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing the decision for the court’s conservatives, said that wasn’t enough.
“Thompkins did not say that he wanted to remain silent or that he did not want to talk to police,” Justice Kennedy said. “Had he made either of these simple, unambiguous statements, he would have invoked his ‘right to cut off questioning.’ Here he did neither, so he did not invoke his right to remain silent.”
Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the court’s newest member, wrote a strongly worded dissent for the court’s liberals, saying the majority’s decision “turns Miranda upside down.”
“Criminal suspects must now unambiguously invoke their right to remain silent — which counterintuitively, requires them to speak,” she said. “At the same time, suspects will be legally presumed to have waived their rights even if they have given no clear expression of their intent to do so. Those results, in my view, find no basis in Miranda or our subsequent cases and are inconsistent with the fair-trial principles on which those precedents are grounded.”
Thompkins was arrested for murder in 2001 and interrogated by police for three hours. At the beginning, Thompkins was read his Miranda rights and said he understood.
The officers in the room said Thompkins said little during the interrogation, occasionally answering “yes,” ”no,” ”I don’t know,” nodding his head and making eye contact as his responses. But when one of the officers asked him if he prayed for forgiveness for “shooting that boy down,” Thompkins said, “Yes.”
He was convicted, but on appeal he wanted that statement thrown out because he said he invoked his Miranda rights by being uncommunicative with the interrogating officers.
The Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed and threw out his confession and conviction. The high court reversed that decision.
The case is Berghuis v. Thompkins, 08-1470.
By Jesse J. Holland
Associated Press JUNE 2010
Illinois Cyberstalking Laws
Sec. 1-2. Harassment through electronic communications. (a) Harassment through electronic communications is the use of electronic communication for any of the following
(1) Making any comment, request, suggestion or proposal which is obscene with an intent to offend;
(2) Interrupting, with the intent to harass, the telephone service or the electronic communication service of any person;
(3) Transmitting to any person, with the intent to harass and regardless of whether the communication is read in its entirety or at all, any file, document, or other communication which prevents that person from using his or her telephone service or electronic communications device;
(3.1) Transmitting an electronic communication or knowingly inducing a person to transmit an electronic communication for the purpose of harassing another person who is under 13 years of age, regardless of whether the person under 13 years of age consents to the harassment, if the defendant is at least 16 years of age at the time of the commission of the offense;
(4) Threatening injury to the person or to the property of the person to whom an electronic communication is directed or to any of his or her family or household members; or
(5) Knowingly permitting any electronic communications device to be used for any of the purposes mentioned in this subsection (a).
(b) As used in this Act:
(1) “Electronic communication” means any transfer of signs, signals, writings, images, sounds, data or intelligence of any nature transmitted in whole or in part by a wire, radio, electromagnetic, photoelectric or photo-optical system. “Electronic communication” includes transmissions by a computer through the Internet to another computer.
(2) “Family or household member” includes spouses, former spouses, parents, children, stepchildren and other persons related by blood or by present or prior marriage, persons who share or formerly shared a common dwelling, persons who have or allegedly share a blood relationship through a child, persons who have or have had a dating or engagement relationship, and persons with disabilities and their personal assistants. For purposes of this Act, neither a casual acquaintanceship nor ordinary fraternization between 2 individuals in business or social contexts shall be deemed to constitute a dating relationship.
(c) Telecommunications carriers, commercial mobile service providers, and providers of information services, including, but not limited to, Internet service providers and hosting service providers, are not liable under this Section, except for willful and wanton misconduct, by virtue of the transmission, storage, or caching of electronic communications or messages of others or by virtue of the provision of other related telecommunications, commercial mobile services, or information services used by others in violation of this Section.
(Source: P.A. 95-849, eff. 1-1-09; 95-984, eff. 6-1-09; 96-328, eff. 8-11-09.)
Washington, D.C. Cyberstalking Laws
Title 22. Criminal Offenses and Penalties. (Refs & Annos)
Subtitle I. Criminal Offenses.
Chapter 31A. Stalking
§ 22-3132. Definitions.
For the purposes of this chapter, the term:
- “Any device” means electronic, mechanical, digital or any other equipment, including: a camera, spycam, computer, spyware, microphone, audio or video recorder, global positioning system, electronic monitoring system, listening device, night-vision goggles, binoculars, telescope, or spyglass.
- “Any means” includes the use of a telephone, mail, delivery service, e-mail, website, or other method of communication or any device.
- “Communicating” means using oral or written language, photographs, pictures, signs, symbols, gestures, or other acts or objects that are intended to convey a message.
- “Emotional distress” means significant mental suffering or distress that may, but does not necessarily, require medical or other professional treatment or counseling;
- “Financial injury” means the monetary costs, debts, or obligations incurred as a result of the stalking by the specific individual, member of the specific individual’s household, a person whose safety is threatened by the stalking, or a person who is financially responsible for the specific individual and includes:
- The costs of replacing or repairing any property that was taken or damaged;
- The costs of clearing the specific individual’s name or his or her credit, criminal, or any other official record;
- Medical bills;
- Relocation expenses;
- Lost employment or wages; and
- Attorney’s fees.
- “Personal identifying information” shall have the same meaning as provided in § 22-3227.01(3).
- “Specific individual” or “individual” means the victim or alleged victim of stalking.
- “To engage in a course of conduct” means directly or indirectly, or through one or more third persons, in person or by any means, on 2 or more occasions, to:
- Follow, monitor, place under surveillance, threaten, or communicate to or about another individual;
- Interfere with, damage, take, or unlawfully enter an individual’s real or personal property or threaten or attempt to do so; or
- Use another individual’s personal identifying information.