Florida May Soon Require Recording Interrogations
Many criminal suspects make incriminating statements while in police custody. The prosecutor can then use these statements in court, often securing convictions.
As experienced criminal defense attorneys, however, we often have questions about police interrogations. Was our client given Constitutionally-required Miranda warnings before the interrogation began? Did our client request an attorney’s presence before talking? And just what was said? Unfortunately, statistics show that about 25% of those cleared of crimes with DNA evidence made a false confession, so skepticism is warranted.
A new law could put to rest many of our doubts. According to the Orlando Sentinel, Florida might soon require that police record interrogations of suspects. Criminal defendants would definitely benefit from the change.
Bill Recently Introduced in the Senate
Jeff Brandes, a Republican representing Tampa Bay, has introduced a bill in the Senate that requires police record interrogations in most situations. The bill has cleared a key Senate committee vote, though a similar bill last year was defeated in the state House.
The bill would require recording only when police interrogate suspects involved in serious crimes like rape, armed robbery, and murder, so someone picked up for shoplifting would not need to be recorded. Currently, many police departments already record interrogations voluntarily. If the bill is passed, then this requirement would be mandatory across the state.
Over 20 other states already require that interrogations be recorded. For example, Illinois passed a law to this effect in 2013.
Recording Interrogations Protects Everyone
The public and the police will also benefit from recording interrogations. For one thing, failure to record a confession has come back to haunt the authorities. Recently, the government tried to convict the wife of the Pulse Nightclub shooter on the grounds that she had confessed to participating in the crime. However, there was no recorded statement or any other evidence, and a jury acquitted the suspect. If she had confessed, then recording the statement would clear up all confusion.
Furthermore, some criminal suspects allege that they were beaten, abused, or harassed while in custody. Many of these charges are frivolous, and videotaping the interrogation would expose that fact. Prosecutors would not have to waste time clearing the reputations of the officers involved in the questioning.
The public also wins when police follow the Constitution and respect everyone’s rights. It is too easy for police to forget to give all four required Miranda warnings or commit other lapses. These mistakes reduce the public confidence in the police and in the criminal justice system more generally. If interrogations were recorded, police would know that they need to respect everyone’s rights, and convictions would be less vulnerable to attack on appeal.
Have the Police Picked You Up for Interrogation?
Until the bill is passed, there is no requirement that the police record your interrogation. If you have made incriminating statements, you should contact an attorney right away. Although we can’t un-ring a bell, we can try to mitigate the damage.
The team at Bundza & Rodriguez is made up of experienced Daytona Beach criminal defense attorneys. We have obtained favorable results for many of our clients, including dismissals and dropped charges, as well as generous plea deals. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation by calling 386-252-5170.