United States v. Julian Mora-Alcaraz (9th Cir. January 2021)

The Federal Docket

Fifth Amendment/Miranda – Police officers violated Miranda where they approached a defendant at a shopping mall in two marked cars, separated him from his seven-year-old son, and interrogated him without advising him of his Miranda rights.

Fifth Amendment/Miranda – A Miranda violation alone does not warrant suppression, and a court must still determine, in a case involving consent to search after a Miranda violation, whether the consent was voluntary.

The Government appealed a district court’s order suppressing statements made by a defendant who was confronted by police officers at a shopping mall while with his young son. The Court first held that the Government’s interlocutory appeal was timely since the Government filed within 30 days after the district court’s order denying reconsideration, not the denial of suppression itself.

Regarding the merits of the suppression order, the Court affirmed. The defendant made incriminating statements after police approached him in two marked cars, separated him from his son, and interrogated him without reading him his Miranda warnings. The statements eventually led the officers to search the defendant’s vehicle, with the defendant’s permission, where they found a firearm.

While the officers violated Miranda, the Court held that the district court erred in holding that the Miranda violation required suppressing the gun’s suppression as the fruits of the inculpatory statement, since a Miranda violations alone do not necessarily warrant suppression. The Court remanded for the district court to determine if the defendant’s consent to search the vehicle was voluntary.

Appeal from the District of Nevada
Opinion by Shroeder (by designation from E.D. Wash.), joined by Berzon and Mendoza

Click here to read the opinion.

Tom Church - Tom is a trial and appellate lawyer focusing on criminal defense and civil trials. Tom is the author of "The Federal Docket" and is a contributor to Mercer Law Review's Annual Survey in the areas of federal sentencing guidelines and criminal law. Tom graduated with honors from the University of Georgia Law School where he served as a research assistant to the faculty in the areas of constitutional law and civil rights litigation. Read Tom's reviews on AVVO. Follow Tom on Linkedin.

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