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The Importance of Miranda and other Constitutional Protections

The Importance of Miranda and other Constitutional Protections

The details surrounding a Michigan homicide investigation are just another reminder of the importance of the right to an attorney and other protections afforded to citizens who find themselves involved in the criminal justice system. Unfortunately, those same details are likely not all that uncommon around the country. That is why it is important to examine this particular case and make yourself aware of your constitutional rights should you ever find yourself in such an untenable position.

Kenneth C. Grondin III of Lapeer, Michigan was taken in by authorities for questioning shortly after his girlfriend was found dead in her aunt's basement on November 16, 2011. Being implicated in a Federal Criminal matter such as this could bring along severe penalties, making the advice and service of a defense attorney in such a situation, all that much more important. While with Michigan State Police, Grondin's attorneys repeatedly attempted to contact him to no avail. Presumably the attorneys simply wanted to inform Grondin that he had legal counsel available to him and that he should stop speaking with the police. This is perfectly normal from the standpoint of a defense attorney. What several of Grondin's attorneys have testified happened next, is anything but normal.

One of Grondin's attorneys, Armand Velardo, testified that he spent virtually the entire afternoon attempting to contact his client and got nothing but "the run around" from the Michigan State Police (MSP). MSP Sgt. Lynne Walker testified that after receiving Velardo's calls attempting to contact Grondin, she called Det /Sgt. Mark Reaves, the lead investigator on the case, who promptly hung up on her. Moreover, additional calls from Walker to Reaves' cell phone went straight to voicemail.

Another attorney in Velardo's office, Adam Latra, testified that he listened in to a phone conversation between Velardo and Reaves where Reaves informed Velardo that his client Grondin had no right to speak with him. Clearly this is contrary to the holding of Supreme Court of the United States in the landmark case of Miranda v. Arizona. What's worse, Michigan has a rule based on a state Supreme Court decision that requires police to inform a suspect that they have an attorney available once they know one has been retained.

In Miranda, the Supreme Court ruled that accused criminals had to be informed of certain rights before police can begin questioning them. One of those is the right to an attorney. Further case law has developed in this particular area that requires the police to cease all questioning as soon as an individual asserts his or her right to an attorney. And of course we all know about the right to remain silent.

Grondin's attorneys are attempting to keep out of evidence any information gathered by the Michigan State Police in violation of these rights, as Grondin was never even informed he had an attorney available to him, let alone given the ability to talk with one. Of course, if Grondin had simply said nothing from the beginning, there wouldn't be much of an issue.

Remember, any time a police officer asks you to go somewhere with them, ask them if you are under arrest. If you are not, you've got no legal obligation to go anywhere. Most police will tell you that if you've got nothing to hide it's ok to talk to them, but that's not always the case. If the police are questioning you and you feel threatened in any way, politely ask them if you're being arrested or charged with anything. If you are, you've got the right to remain silent, invoke that right and say nothing – except that you want your attorney. Then call The Hoover Firm at 1-888-758-7081, where an attorney is available 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

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