I just returned from a two-day jury trial in Mountain Home, Idaho. My client was charged with burglary. She was brave and, because she believed in her innocence, did not plead guilty. She left her fate in the capable hands of twelve of her fellow citizens. Unfortunately, after 3+ hours of deliberations, the jury returned a guilty verdict on the single count of burglary she was charged with. I take these loses hard.
We were awaiting the jury’s verdict, in the hallway of this courthouse, discussing why she had spoken with law enforcement. She indicated to me (not for the first time) that, if she didn’t, she would be admitting her guilt. I understand why she felt that way but THAT IS NOT THE LAW!
You are under NO OBLIGATION to speak to the police to aid in any criminal investigation. Law enforcement knew that in this case and had my client sign a “Waiver of Rights Form,” which she signed.
Failing to speak to law enforcement concerning a crime they are investigating is not an admission of guilty. In fact, as discussed in a previous post, the fact you refuse to speak with law enforcement cannot be considered by any jury in determining your guilt. YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT; the Fifth Amendment to the United State’s Constitution that says that.
Monday morning (or in this case, Thursday afternoon) quarterbacking is always a risky business when it comes to trials and their outcomes. What I will say is this: the jury saw snippets of her interview; what she said did not help her case. Would she have been convicted without the interview, I have no idea because we were not presented with those facts.
On the positive side: the judge could have taken her into custody immediately following the verdict. He did not indicate any desire to do so. She remains free pending sentencing, which is set for September 8, 2017.
She lost this battle, but the war continues and I will continue fighting on her behalf. As I have written previously, sentencing is a critical phase of the proceedings; I will fight to ensure my client receives the best sentence possible for this conviction.