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Although Miranda rights were violated, physical evidence still admissible

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Although a man’s incriminating statements made while sitting in a police car should have been suppressed, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled the error was harmless because the physical evidence seized was sufficient to sustain his convictions.

Duane Crocker was charged and convicted of Class C felony dealing in marijuana, Class D felony marijuana possession, and Class D felony maintaining a common nuisance after a traffic stop revealed 10 bales of marijuana in the trunk of his rented car.

During the traffic stop, Indiana State Police trooper Joseph Winters instructed Crocker to go sit in the front seat of his police vehicle. The trooper first administered a field sobriety test and asked Crocker questions about his travel plans, and then he produced a Consent to Search or Pirtle form.

As Crocker was reading over the form, Winters said he believed there was marijuana in the trunk. Crocker signed the consent form.

Winters next asked how much marijuana was in the trunk. When Crocker said he did not know, Winters read Crocker his Miranda warnings.

Crocker appealed his convictions contending the trial court abused its discretion in admitting evidence obtained during his traffic stop. The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court’s judgment in Duane Crocker v. State of Indiana, 79A04-1210-CR-542.

In his appeal, Crocker argued Winters’ questioning was improper because it constituted a custodial interrogation and he had not yet been read his Miranda rights. The state countered that Crocker was not in custody when sitting in the police car and therefore the requirement to give him his Miranda rights was not applicable.

However, the Court of Appeals concluded Crocker was in custody because Winters had a high degree of control over the environment. Therefore, Crocker should have been given his Miranda rights as soon as he was inside the police vehicle.

The court went on to point out that Crocker had been given a written statement of his Pirtle rights which stated he had the right to refuse consent, force the state to obtain a warrant, and speak to an attorney before consenting.

The court found even though Winters did violate Crocker’s Miranda rights, the trooper’s misconduct was not particularly egregious. In addition, Crocker did not admit to knowing that he was transporting marijuana until after he consented to the search of his vehicle.

 

 

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  1. I just wanted to point out that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Senator Feinstein, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, and former attorney general John Ashcroft are responsible for this rubbish. We need to keep a eye on these corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent fools.

  2. Well I guess our politicians have decided to give these idiot federal prosecutors unlimited power. Now if I guy bounces a fifty-dollar check, the U.S. attorney can intentionally wait for twenty-five years or so and have the check swabbed for DNA and file charges. These power hungry federal prosecutors now have unlimited power to mess with people. we can thank Wisconsin's Jim Sensenbrenner and Diane Feinstein, John Achcroft and Bill Frist for this one. Way to go, idiots.

  3. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  4. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

  5. Hypocrisy in high places, absolute immunity handed out like Halloween treats (it is the stuff of which tyranny is made) and the belief that government agents are above the constitutions and cannot be held responsible for mere citizen is killing, perhaps has killed, The Republic. And yet those same power drunk statists just reel on down the hallway toward bureaucratic fascism.

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