COA: Statements not made in illegal detention

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed the denial of a defendant's motion to suppress statements given to authorities while detained, finding he was legally detained because police already had probable cause to arrest him.

In Alton Moss v. State of Indiana, No. 27A04-0805-CR-257, Alton Moss was charged with felony murder and conspiracy to commit robbery while armed with a deadly weapon following the murder of Jamie Smith at his home in Grant County. A witness mentioned Moss' name as a person inside the home at the time of the murder. Months later, a Grant County inmate told police Moss confessed to killing Smith while attempting to rob him of marijuana, and the grandfather of one of Moss' children told police Moss had made incriminating statements about the Smith killing.

After Moss' fiancee told police Moss had told her he and his brother tried to steal drugs from a man, who was shot, police arrested Moss on an outstanding body attachment from a civil case in Howard County. Police didn't tell Moss or his fiancee that there was also a body attachment in a different matter on Moss in Grant County. Police told the fiancee she couldn't post bond in the Howard County matter. Afterwards, Moss signed a waiver of his Miranda rights and gave his version of what happened at Smith's home.

After he was charged, Moss filed a motion to suppress his statements, arguing they were given during an illegal detention, he gave them involuntarily, and Miranda violations made them inadmissible. The trial court denied the motion, but granted his order for interlocutory appeal only on the grounds of the legality of his detention.

The Court of Appeals found some merit in Moss' argument that he was illegally detained because his fiancee tried to post bond before he was questioned but wasn't able to, and that neither of them were aware of the Grant County body attachment and bond until after he was interrogated. The detective who told Moss' fiancee she couldn't post bond was misleading, but the fiancee never questioned why she couldn't post bond nor did she try to post it elsewhere, wrote Judge Patricia Riley. Plus, there's no evidence Moss invoked his right to offer bail.

"In any event, we need not determine the legality of Moss' detention vis-a-vis the two body attachments and bonds, because we agree with the State that the police had an independent basis on which to hold Moss: probable cause to arrest Moss for his involvement in the crimes against Smith," she wrote.

The police had probable cause based on the testimony of several people linking Moss to the crime even before Moss gave his statements while detained.

The appellate court remanded the cause to the trial court for further proceedings and noted that if he is convicted, he could raise his other two issues on appeal.


Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. I commend Joe for standing up to this tyrant attorney! You ask why? Well I’m one of David Steele victims. I was in desperate need of legal help to protect my child, David saw an opportunity, and he demanded I pay him $3000. Cash. As I received motions and orders from court he did nothing! After weeks of emails asking him to address the legal issues, he responded by saying he was “on vacation “and I should be so lucky to have “my attorney” reply. Finally after lie on top of lie I asked for a full refund, which he refused. He then sent me “bills” for things he never did, such as, his appearance in the case and later claimed he withdrew. He never filed one document / motion for my case! When I finally demanded he refund my money he then turn to threats which scared my family for our lives. It seem unreal we couldn’t believe this guy. I am now over $100,000 in debt digging out of the legal mess he caused my family. Later I was finally able to hire another law office. I met Joe and we worked diligently on my case. I soon learn Joe had a passion for helping people. As anyone who has been through a legal battle it is exhausting. Joe was always more than happy to help or address an issue. Joe was knowledgeable about all my concerns at the same time he was able to reduce the stress and anxieties of my case. He would stay late and come in early, he always went the extra mile to help in any way he could. I can only imagine what Joe and his family has been through, my prayers go out to him and all the victims.

  2. Steele did more than what is listed too. He purposely sought out to ruin me, calling potential employers and then lied about me alleging all kinds of things including kidnapping. None of his allegations were true. If you are in need of an ethical and very knowledgeable family law paralegal, perhaps someone could post their contact information. Ethics cannot be purchased, either your paralegal has them or they do not.

  3. This is ridiculous. Most JDs not practicing law don't know squat to justify calling themselves a lawyer. Maybe they should try visiting the inside of a courtroom before they go around calling themselves lawyers. This kind of promotional BS just increases the volume of people with JDs that are underqualified thereby dragging all the rest of us down likewise.

  4. I think it is safe to say that those Hoosier's with the most confidence in the Indiana judicial system are those Hoosier's who have never had the displeasure of dealing with the Hoosier court system.

  5. I have an open CHINS case I failed a urine screen I have since got clean completed IOP classes now in after care passed home inspection my x sister in law has my children I still don't even have unsupervised when I have been clean for over 4 months my x sister wants to keep the lids for good n has my case working with her I just discovered n have proof that at one of my hearing dcs case worker stated in court to the judge that a screen was dirty which caused me not to have unsupervised this was at the beginning two weeks after my initial screen I thought the weed could have still been in my system was upset because they were suppose to check levels n see if it was going down since this was only a few weeks after initial instead they said dirty I recently requested all of my screens from redwood because I take prescriptions that will show up n I was having my doctor look at levels to verify that matched what I was prescripted because dcs case worker accused me of abuseing when I got my screens I found out that screen I took that dcs case worker stated in court to judge that caused me to not get granted unsupervised was actually negative what can I do about this this is a serious issue saying a parent failed a screen in court to judge when they didn't please advise