In a recent criminal case in Massachusetts, a defendant appealed his guilty conviction for murder in the first degree. On appeal, the defendant argued that the officers had coerced him into providing a confession of guilty; the higher court, however, ruled that the confession was entirely voluntary.
The court’s opinion highlights the fact that without an attorney present, it is always best to refrain from admitting to having committed a crime. Competent, aggressive representation is helpful at any phase of a criminal case, but especially during the interrogation process. Here, having waived the right to an attorney and having instead chosen to continue the conversation with police officers, the defendant voluntarily confessed to the crime. The court affirmed his guilty verdict.
Facts of the Case
According to the opinion, this case began when the defendant entered a married couple’s home, stabbed the couple, and stole several of the couple’s valuables. One of the victims immediately died from the incident, and the second died approximately one month later. The day after the attack, surveillance from a nearby store showed the defendant using one of the victim’s debit cards, and police officers took the defendant in for questioning.
During the questioning, the defendant immediately admitted to having committed the attack. The defendant was charged with murder, and his case went to trial. After trial, the jury announced a guilty verdict, and the defendant was sentenced accordingly. He promptly appealed.