never have to deal with it!
It is a very rare case in which we recommend to a client that he/she give a statement to investigators. It just almost never happens. Things get twisted during law enforcement interviews. Interviews are almost never conversations; instead, they're purpose-driven interrogations. You're asked to submit to an interview in a criminal investigation because the law enforcement officers believe that you have something to offer that will advance their efforts to prosecute (you).
So, when we confront how to deal with a prior statement by our clients, the 1st step should be a thorough evaluation of the admissibility of the statement, and when we evaluate whether a statement is likely admissible against our client, a primary concern should be: why did our client give a statement when he/she knew that he was likely a suspect in a criminal investigation? Once you understand why they gave the statement, you may have a much stronger case for arguing that the statement was not made voluntarily and is, therefore, inadmissible. Consider Foster v. State:
Appellant maintains that statements he made in the third interview after he and the detectives executed the document promising not to press against him any additional charges related to the weapon were the basis of a detective's trial testimony that appellant was the source of the murder weapon.5 He contends the detective's testimony should have been suppressed because the written document executed by the detectives was an improper hope of benefit which made appellant's statement involuntary.6 The transcript of the detectives' interview with appellant reflects that, within one minute of receiving his copy of the signed document, appellant told the detectives he knew where the weapon was and would have it delivered to them. When the detectives expressed their preference of obtaining the weapon at its current location, appellant told them it was at his father's home, that appellant had owned it for two years, and that appellant had given it to his co-indictees when he had given them grated wallboard and directed them to sell it as cocaine to the victim.
Appellant made the statements that connected him to the murder weapon after being induced to do so by the written promise of the detectives to not press against appellant any additional charges related to the weapons. When appellant told the detectives the location of the gun and his role of providing the gun to his co-indictees, he did so in the hope of receiving no punishment for crimes related to his possession of the weapon. Just as holding out a hope of benefit in the form of lesser punishment is an impermissible hope of benefit that renders a confession involuntary and inadmissible under OCGA § 24–3–50 (State v. Ray, 272 Ga. at 452, 531 S.E.2d 705; State v. Ritter, supra, 268 Ga. at 110, 485 S.E.2d 492), the “reward” of facing no charges in connection with the weapon is an impermissible hope of benefit that rendered appellant's incriminating statements inadmissible. Richardson v. State, supra, 265 Ga.App. at 716, 595 S.E.2d 565. Because appellant's statement, repeated by the interviewing detective during his testimony at trial, was the only evidence before the jury that appellant provided his co-indictees with the weapon they used to kill the victim, we are unable to conclude that the erroneous admission of the testimony was harmless. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of conviction and remand the case to the trial court for a new trial.
Foster v. State, 283 Ga. 484, 487-88, 660 S.E.2d 521, 524-25 (2008).
If law enforcement officers are seeking to interview you or someone you care about, we strongly recommend that you seek the services of a qualified Georgia criminal defense attorney before discussing this any further with law enforcement officers.
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