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Indiana Court of Appeals - Motion to Suppress Evidence in OWI Case

Indiana Court of Appeals Affirms Denial of Motion to Suppress Evidence in OWI Case

“You have the right to remain silent” is a phrase most have heard, whether it be from a television show or personal experience. This phrase is from what is known as (a part of the) Miranda rights. Miranda rights are a centerpiece of the American legal system and arise out of the United States Constitution’s Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. When exactly does an officer have to read an individual their Miranda rights? And what happens if an individual is not read their Miranda rights? The short and simple answer is that— it depends. As is generally the case in law, there is no hard and fast rule, but instead, each case is fact sensitive. The Indiana Court of Appeals recently discussed these important questions in Ashley Reid v. State of Indiana1. This case and answering these questions is the focus of this blog.

In Reid v. State, the defendant, Reid, was charged with Operating While Intoxicated (“OWI”). The relevant facts are that in late 2017, an officer with the Columbus Police Department received a call about a potential drunk driver. Upon arriving at the scene, the police officer saw two women standing in the driveway of a home, one of which was Reid. The police officer stated that Reid was staggering in the driveway and that her vehicle had damage and a flat tire. The police officer stated that he immediately noticed Reid was intoxicated. Furthermore, when asked if the vehicle was hers, Reid answered affirmatively. Reid also told the officer she had just gotten home, and that she had not drank any alcohol since being home. Although Reid denied causing the damage to her vehicle, the police officer had her do a field sobriety test, and a breathalyzer, both of which Reid failed. The State charged Reid with two counts of OWI.

Reid filed a motion to suppress2 all oral and written communications, confessions, statements, or admissions relied upon finding her guilty. Reid’s basis for the motion to suppress was that she alleged the police officer wrongfully conducted a custodial interrogation without first Mirandizing her, and as such, the evidence should be suppressed. The trial court denied the motion, and Reid filed an appeal with the Indiana Court of Appeals, claiming the trial court erred in denying the motion. In its discussion, the Court of Appeals first noted that the police officer had reasonable suspicion to stop Reid and investigate. The Court specifically stated that “the reasonable inferences arising from such facts would cause an ordinarily prudent person to believe that criminal activity may be afoot.” As such, the Court did not find a violation of the Fourth Amendment.

The Court of Appeals went on to discuss the issue of Miranda Rights. The Court noted that “the trigger to require Miranda rights advisement is custodial interrogation.” Furthermore, the “totality of the circumstances” determines whether a custodial interrogation has occurred. In analyzing Reid’s claim, the Court relied on the following facts: the police officer was standing outside in the open; the officer did not tell Reid she must remain at the scene; the nature of the questions; and the degree of police control over the environment. The court, in light of all surrounding facts, could not conclude that a formal arrest or restraint of Reid’s freedom had occurred, and therefore no Miranda rights advisement was necessary. As such, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s denial of the motion to suppress.

This area of law is extremely technical, while also having the potential to completely change the course of your life. An individual who is unaware of their rights may have them “violated” (due to failing to know to assert the rights) without even knowing. Leading to a negative result for you. The importance of understanding the status of developments in the law is the key to avoiding criminal liability, as well as being an engaged citizen in our participatory system of government.

This blog post on a key new case was written by attorneys at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. who handle criminal defense cases and appeals of criminal convictions throughout the state. Knowing the law is a key to be an engaged citizen. Having criminal defense counsel current on the latest developments in law provides you with the best criminal defense. This blog is written for educational purposes only. It is not intended as legal advice or a solicitation for services. It is an advertisement.

  1. Ashley Reid v. State of Indiana, 18A-CR-493.
  2. A motion to suppress is a device in which a defendant can attempt to exclude wrongfully obtained evidence.

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