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Articles Posted in Assault and Battery

Recently a state appellate court issued a decision in a defendant’s appeal regarding statements he made to police prior to his arrest in a Virginia assault case. The case arose when police questioned the defendant about his involvement in a shooting while he was receiving treatment for a gunshot wound at a hospital. Hospital staff contacted police after admitting the man for a gunshot wound. Initially, detectives were unsure whether the defendant was a victim or a perpetrator. There were four detectives and a security guard present while two detectives questioned the defendant about his involvement. During questioning, the defendant’s family member arrived and remained in the room.

Additionally, hospital staff continued to provide medical treatment and collect identification and insurance information from the defendant. Following the questioning, the detective went to another hospital to interview two shooting victims who were believed to be involved in the incident. At that point, they discovered that the defendant was the perpetrator. After the defendant was discharged from the hospital, detectives escorted him to the police department, advised him of his Miranda rights, and arrested him. On appeal, the defendant filed a motion to suppress the statements he made to the detectives at the hospital. He argued that his statements were made in the absence of a Miranda warning.

Under Virginia law, police must advise anyone accused in a criminal case of their Miranda rights before conducting a police interrogation. However, Miranda warnings are unnecessary when the interviewee’s freedom has not been restricted in a way that amounts to being “in custody.” There are various factors that courts use to determine whether a suspect was in custody. These factors include, how the person was summoned to the police, the neutrality of the surroundings, the number of officers present, the degree of physical restraint, the duration and character of the interrogation, and the extent to which the interviewee believed the police found them culpable.

Earlier this year, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Virginia assault case discussing whether there was sufficient evidence to sustain the defendant’s convictions. Ultimately, the court rejected the defendant’s arguments, affirming her convictions.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, a police officer received a call from the defendant’s home. Upon arriving, the officer parked in the driveway. As he got out of the car, the officer could hear screaming. Moments later, the officer noticed several people standing on the porch, with the defendant in the doorway.

A man on the porch addressed the officer, explaining that he had lived at the home and wanted to get inside to get his belongings. The defendant began shouting that the man had “put his hands on her.” The officer walked up the porch and began to talk to the man. The defendant continued to yell and argue with the man. When the officer told her to stop yelling, she tried to shut the door. The officer put his foot in the threshold to prevent the door from closing.

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