Case Briefs- Criminal Law

Enmund said because the evidence did not establish

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Unformatted text preview: t self- incrimination. The police duty to give these warnings is compelled by the Constitution's Fifth Amendment, which gives a criminal suspect the right to refuse "to be a witness against himself," and Sixth Amendment, which guarantees criminal defendants the right to an attorney. The Court maintained that the defendant's right against self- incrimination has long been part of Anglo- American law as a means to equalize the vulnerability inherent in being detained. Such a position, unchecked, can often lead to government abuse. For example, the Court cited the continued high incidence of police violence designed to compel confessions from a suspect. This and other forms of intimidation, maintained the Court, deprive criminal suspects of their basic liberties and can lead to false confessions. The defendant's right to an attorney is an equally fundamental right, because the presence of an attorney in interrogations, according to Chief Justice Warren, enables "the defendant under otherwise compelling circumstances to tell his story without fear, effectively, and in a way that eliminates the evils in the interrogations process." Without these two fundamental rights, both of which, the Court ruled, "dispel the compulsion inherent in custodial surroundings," "no statement obtained from the defendant can truly be the product of his free choice." North Carolina v. Alford (Guilty plea) Issue: Does the threat of the death penalty render a plea to a lesser charge, expressly for the purpose of avoiding the death penalty, a coerced plea? Does the Constitution prohibit pleas in which defendants accept punishment for the crimes charged but maintain their innocence? Holding: No, the threat of the death penalty does not coerce a defendant into pleading to a lesser charge, and states have the authority to accept such pleas. No, there is no constitutional bar to accepting a guilty plea by a defendant even where he does not admit complicity in the crime charged. Reasoning: Justice White, writing for the majority, explained that the death penalty had no effect on the traditional standard for evaluated a plea for coercion. Defendants that make a free and voluntary choice to plead guilty, adequately assisted by counsel, may choose to do so even where they maintain their innocence. Desire to avoid the death penalty alone is...
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