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Judges reverse denial of motion to suppress

January 20, 2012

The Indiana Court of Appeals found police should have given a Spanish-speaking man arrested for driving without receiving a license a Miranda warning before he filled out an information sheet. As a result of his answers, police later charged him with forgery because his name on the sheet didn’t match what he provided to his employer.

Jose Castillo-Aguilar was stopped by police because his car had a cracked windshield. He provided identification cards with two different names. Because he speaks little English and the police officer didn’t speak Spanish, the officer brought Castillo-Aguilar to the police station to find out his identity. Castillo-Aguilar was given an “information sheet” in Spanish to fill out, which asked for data such as his full name and address, time living in Goshen, the name of his car insurance company, and the name and location of his employer. He was not given a Miranda warning prior to filing out the sheet.

Based on the information he provided, police charged Castillo-Aguilar with Class C felony forgery because his employer identified Castillo-Aguilar as an employee named Gilberto Beltran. Castillo-Aguilar filed a motion to suppress his answers on the sheet and evidence collected thereafter, but the trial court denied it.

On interlocutory appeal in Jose Castillo-Aguilar v. State of Indiana, No. 20A04-1003-CR-195, the appellate court concluded Castillo-Aguilar should have been given Miranda warnings before filling out the sheet because certain questions on it – such as where he worked – were used to elicit an incriminating response that was later the basis for the charges against him. Castillo-Aguilar was subject to an “interrogation” when he was asked to fill out the information sheet at the police station, wrote Judge Melissa May.

The COA reversed the denial of his motion to suppress.

 

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