Louisiana v. King
Opinion Date: April 3, 2020
Judge: Per Curiam
Areas of Law: Constitutional Law, Criminal Law
Officers placed defendant Tre King in handcuffs during a traffic stop after they smelled marijuana in the vehicle and determined that he had outstanding warrants for his arrest. They advised him of his rights pursuant to Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436. Defendant indicated that he understood his rights. A search of the vehicle revealed marijuana in the passenger side door and a gun beneath a jacket. Defendant claimed that the marijuana, jacket, and gun all belonged to him. Defendant was arrested and charged with possession of a firearm by a person convicted of certain felonies, and illegal carrying of a weapon while in possession of a controlled dangerous substance. After initially denying defendant’s motion to suppress his statements, the district court ultimately granted defendant’s motion to exclude his statements from trial. The State sought supervisory review from the court of appeal, which denied writs because it found, consistent with prior rulings in that circuit, that the Miranda warning was deficient because it fit not advise defendant of the temporal aspects of his right to an attorney (i.e., that he had a right to an attorney both before and during any questioning). The Louisiana Supreme Court granted review in this case to determine whether the warning that “you have the right to an attorney, and if you can’t afford one, one will be appointed to you,” without further qualification, was a sufficient advisement of the right to counsel under Miranda. The Court determined that a general advisement like that given in this case was sufficient, and that a statement need not be suppressed because of the failure to qualify the warning with an additional advisement that the right to counsel exists both before and during questioning. Accordingly, the Court reversed the rulings of the lower courts, denied defendant's motion to exclude his statements, and remanded for the district court for further proceedings.
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