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Broward Appeals Court Rules That Miranda Warnings Do Not Apply To Barricaded Suspects

The 4th District Court of Appeals - the appeals court that handles Circuit Court cases heard in Broward, Palm Beach, Indian River, and Martin County - has ruled that suspects that barricade themselves are not entitled to Miranda warnings prior to making statements.

The case that prompted this ruling dealt with a young man who was accused of murdering his father. When police arrived at his home, he barricaded himself inside, threatening to kill himself. As he spoke with police negotiators, he made statements suggesting that he had killed his father. At trial, the State Attorney's Office sought to use those statements against the accused as evidence of guilt.

The accused's defense attorney sought suppression of the statement on the grounds that Miranda warnings were never given before the accused began speaking with police.

However, the 4th DCA, affirming the trial court's denial of the motion to suppress, stated that the accused was not in custody while barricaded in his home. In order for Miranda warnings to apply, a suspect must be in police custody and must be subject to interrogation.

While I don't understand how being in a home surrounded by law enforcement officers would allow somebody to think that they are free to leave, the matter may now be taken up by the Florida Supreme Court for resolution.

Eric Matheny is a criminal defense attorney serving Miami-Dade and Broward.