Part 1 of this article discussed the 5th Amendment in the context of drug and gun cases in Philadelphia. Click here for part 1. Here, part 2 discusses the application of the 5th Amendment in a drug/gun case.
The reality is that many residents of Philadelphia who are investigated or arrested for drug offenses or gun charges are not fully aware of their 5th Amendment rights. Many individuals believe that by admitting guilt, they might be let go. Officers often tell suspects that admitting guilt or helping their investigation will lead to leniency. This is hardly the case.
In general, 5th Amendment interrogation rights are triggered when there is a custodial interrogation (AKA: Miranda rights). This requires being in custody and being interrogated. There have been literally hundreds of court cases which have dealt squarely with the issue of the 5th Amendment and custodial interrogation. This body of law is arguably one of the most complex and will require careful analysis by an experienced criminal defense lawyer.
Example – The 5th Amendment in a Philadelphia Drug Case
For instance, a resident of Philadelphia is arrested for dealing drugs after police officers allegedly witness him selling drugs in front of a house. He is cuffed and placed in the back of a patrol car while police officers search the home.
One of the arresting officers gets into the front seat of the patrol car and asks the individual where the drugs are located in the house. At no time is the individual read his Miranda rights. The individual asks to speak to a lawyer, and the officer replies that a lawyer will only make things worse for him. He admits that drugs can be located in a house down the street. The officers enter that home and seize the drugs. Officers also find several guns in the same room as the drugs. The individual is charged with possession with intent to deliver as well as various gun charges.
Here, a Motion to Suppress the Statements and Drug and Gun Evidence is likely to be successful because the individual wasn’t read his Miranda rights, asked for an attorney, and was interrogated, all while in custody. The officers found the drugs in another home because of the defendant’s statements. If the statements and drug/gun evidence are suppressed, the individual’s case would probably be dismissed.
It’s important to note that in some cases, individuals will be tricked into confessing to crimes they did not commit. This tends to occur in complex cases such as murder cases. It’s not uncommon for an arrested individual to cave after intense interrogation and confess to a crime they are actually innocent of. This is especially true for those who are young or have lower IQs, learning disabilities or mental disabilities. Recently, two brothers in North Carolina were pardoned after spending 3 decades in prison for a violent rape and murder of a child. The brothers were themselves teenagers, aged 19 and 15, when they confessed. DNA testing revealed that the brothers were innocent. This recent case highlights the problem of false confessions in our criminal justice system. False confessions can and do occur.
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