Recently, a circuit court in Virginia ruled on the Commonwealth of Virginia’s appeal in a sex abuse case. The defendant had been charged with having sexual intercourse with a child, and the trial court had made the decision to suppress certain statements the defendant made to officers investigating the crime. On appeal, the Commonwealth argued that the statements should not have been suppressed, since the defendant had made the statements voluntarily. Agreeing with the Commonwealth, the higher court reversed the trial court’s decision.
Facts of the Case
According to the opinion, the defendant in this case was brought into the police station because officers suspected him of abusing his role as a child custodian and having sex with a minor. The officers had not charged the defendant with any crime, but they wanted to speak with him to figure out if he was a legitimate suspect.
At one point in the conversation, the officers asked the defendant if he would submit to a polygraph test. The defendant asked to consult with an attorney about the decision. The officers said that would be fine, then proceeded to question the defendant more about the situation by asking him if he would agree to participate in a DNA swab. To this, the defendant agreed.
The defendant later moved to strike evidence from the interrogation and the DNA swab, arguing he had invoked his constitutional right to an attorney and anything the officers learned after he asked for a lawyer was inadmissible. The trial court suppressed the evidence, and the Commonwealth appealed.
On appeal, the Commonwealth argued that the defendant had made his statements completely voluntarily. While he did ask for an attorney with regards to the polygraph test, he did not ask for counsel at any other point of the conversation. Thus, said the Commonwealth, the defendant had not invoked his right to an attorney on the issue of the DNA swab, and the statements were wrongfully suppressed.
Examining the evidence, the court of appeals ended up agreeing with the Commonwealth. The court found that the defendant had made all of his statements voluntarily and without any undue pressure or coercion from the officers. What’s more, the request for an attorney was limited to the decision about a polygraph test. At no point did the defendant ask for an attorney in a broader scope or ask to be able to leave the conversation.
Given the nature of the defendant’s behavior, then, the statements should not have been suppressed. The court of appeals reversed the trial court’s ruling and sent the case back to the lower court to be litigated with this new evidence.
Are You Facing Criminal Charges in Fairfax County?
At Robinson Law, PLLC, we handle cases not only related to domestic violence, assault, and battery, but also related to drugs, DUIs, and guns. If you are looking for a Fairfax attorney to represent you in the face of unfair treatment by the Commonwealth, look no further. We have the experience and tenacity to work hard until we get you the results you deserve. For a free and confidential consultation, call us today at 703-542-3616.