Florida v. Powell

Florida v. Powell Case Brief

United States Supreme Court
130 S. Ct. 1195 (2010)

ISSUE: Do Miranda rights that tell a suspect that he has the right to assistance of counsel before questioning but also tell him he can invoke his rights at any time satisfy Miranda?
  • Officers, seeking to arrest Powell in connection with a robbery investigation, entered Powell's GF's apartment
  • The officers saw Powell exit a bedroom, so the officers searched the room and found a loaded 9mm handgun under the bed
  • Powell was arrested and given read his rights:
    • "You have the right to talk to a lawyer before answering any of our questions."
    • "You have the right to use any of these rights at any time you want during the interview."
  • Powell indicated that he understood his rights and waived them
  • Powell moved to suppress his statements on the basis that the rights were defective for not conveying the right to have counsel present during questioning
  • Trial Ct. denied motion
  • Ct. App. reversed holding that the warnings didn't adequately convey Powell's right to have an atty present during questioning
  • Fla. Sup. Ct. affirmed holding that the rights were misleading because they suggested that Powell could only consult with an atty prior to questioning
  • Totality validates warnings: In combination, the 2 warnings reasonably conveyed Powell's right to have an atty present prior to and during questioning
    • Unreasonable to think that a suspect would think that he would have to leave the interrogation room in order to consult with his atty
    • "Before" term conveyed that Powell could consult his atty before answering each question
  • The adequacy of Miranda warnings are judged by the "totality of the circumstances," i.e., all of the warnings given to a particular individual as a whole.

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