Individuals arrested or brought in for questioning related to alleged
sex crimes often face harsh treatment and judgment by law enforcement personnel. Regardless of the circumstances, all individuals have certain rights coined the Miranda rights that are to be read to them. When investigating police use intimidating, coercive or deceptive practices to illicit a confession, however, the rights of the accused individual are often neglected.
One 22-year-old man recently appealed a conviction stemming from allegedly inappropriately touching a minor after contending police used coercive tactics to get him to confess to the crime. Upon being brought in to the police station for questioning, the man contends he was not read his Miranda rights or made to believe he had the right to call an attorney.
Rather, he contends, police proceeded to barrage him with hostile and leading questions aimed to illicit a confession. At one point, investigating officers can be heard on the videotaped interview telling the man he would spend the night in jail and not be able to make any calls if he didn’t confess. At another point, questioning officers hint that they have evidence that implicates the man in the crime.
After more than an hour of intense questioning and harassment, the man finally caved and ended up confessing to the crime. As such he was charged and arrested with first-degree sexual assault of a child. He was awarded a jury trial, and found guilty. He appealed the jury’s decision; however, contending tactics used by police were overtly deceptive and coercive.
The supreme court of the state in which the man resides, however, upheld the lower court’s opinion. One justice on the panel, however, did dissent and strongly questioned the tactics used by police during the man’s questioning.
This case serves as an important cautionary tale to any individual accused of a sex crime. Penalties for sex crimes are serious and often result in individuals serving time behind bars, paying fines and being forced to follow sex registry laws upon release. It’s essential, therefore, that all individuals accused of crimes such as rape, sexual assault, molestation or child pornography retain an experienced and skillful criminal defense attorney.
Source: State Bar of Wisconsin, “In Criminal Case, Supreme Court Upholds Confession Despite Alleged Police Coercion,” Joe Forward, Jan. 9, 2013