How the Fifth Amendment Right Against Self-Incrimination Can be Sidestepped in Boston OUI Cases

The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects criminal defendants from being compelled to testify against themselves when being investigated or prosecuted for a crime. The Massachusetts state constitution and code contain similar provisions that are designed to protect residents who are suspected of crimes from being coerced into making incriminating statements. To ensure the federal constitutional right is functionally protected, courts have ruled that a criminal suspect, as part of a “Miranda warning,” must be notified of their right against self-incrimination before being arrested for a crime.

Failure by law enforcement to properly give and comply with the Miranda rights of a suspect may result in the exclusion of any evidence gained from the improper questioning. A Massachusetts man convicted of an OUI offense recently challenged the court’s admission of evidence that was obtained before he was given a proper Miranda warning, which was then used to obtain a conviction against him.

According to the facts discussed in the recently published appellate opinion, the defendant was pulled over while driving because his registration tags were expired. After the stop, the responding officer suspected that the defendant was intoxicated and spoke with the man, observing the defendant’s speech was slurred. This observation was made before the man was arrested or given his Miranda rights. The evidence of the defendant’s slurred speech was admitted at trial, and the defendant was convicted of OUI by the finder of fact.

The defendant appealed his conviction, arguing that the officer’s testimony as to the style of his speech should not have been admitted, as it was an impermissible incriminating statement that was obtained without Miranda warnings. The appellate court rejected the defendant’s arguments, holding that slurred speech was an observation of the officer, and not a statement by the defendant. As a result of the appellate ruling, the defendant’s conviction will stand.

In this case, the constitutional defense didn’t work out for the defendant. However, constitutional violations are one of the most effective defenses to Boston OUI offenses. For example, experienced OUI defense lawyers may argue that the arresting officer didn’t have probable cause to pull over your vehicle, to demand you submit to chemical testing, or by taking your statements without advising you of your Miranda warnings. Of course, there are many other defenses to OUI charges; it’s just a matter of finding the one that fits your case the best.

Speak with an Experienced Boston DUI Lawyer About Your Case Today

If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges in Massachusetts, it’s important to know that navigating your prosecution can be an uphill battle. The Massachusetts criminal defense attorneys at the Law Office of Patrick J. Murphy are experienced in handling tough prosecutors and judges in the state, and we can help fight the charges against you. Our firm represents clients facing all Massachusetts misdemeanors and felonies, including OUI offenses. Contact our office at 617-367-0450 to schedule a free and confidential consultation with one of our lawyers.

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