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Supreme Court Clarifies Miranda: 14-Day Rule to Question Suspects After They Decide to Remain Silent

NCJ Number
Christopher Mallios, J.D.
Date Published
October 2011
2 pages
This paper explains and offers a supportive comment on the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in "Maryland v. Shatzer," 559 U.S. (2010), which reinstated a defendant's child sexual abuse conviction and announced a new rule that permits the police to resume questioning a suspect 14 days after his/her release from police custody, even though the suspect invoked the right to remain silent during his/her previous contact with the police.
In August 2003, police questioned Shatzer about allegations that he had sexually abused his 3-year-old son. At the time of the questioning, the defendant was incarcerated in a Maryland State correctional institution due to a prior conviction for abusing a different child. The investigator stated the "Miranda" warnings, and Shatzer invoked his right to speak to an attorney. The questioning stopped, and the police closed the investigation due to lack of evidence. Two and one-half years later, a social worker made a second referral to the police about Shatzer's molestation of his son, based on more detailed allegations, and the case was assigned to a different investigator. Shatzer was again approached for an interview. Shatzer agreed to talk with investigators after signing a written waiver of his "Miranda" rights. He subsequently made an incriminating statement and then asked for an attorney. The defendant filed a motion to suppress his statement, claiming that the police violated his right by questioning him in 2006 after he had previously invoked his right to counsel in 2003. Although the trial court denied the claim, this was reversed on appeal, and the case went to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Supreme Court's ruling in "Shatzer" expands the ability of law enforcement officers to conduct suspect interviews in ongoing investigations where the evidence builds over time.