Misinterpretation of Facts Leads to “False Confession”


“What day or act or fact are we even talking about?”

I argue a motion to suppress a detective’s interview and recorded statements which were obtained, I argue, in violation of my client’s Fifth Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution. Out of the Jury’s presence, we view the video confession where the detective insists on drawing a confession from my client while not fully understanding his broken English. The Judge denies my motion to suppress.

So the video is introduced as evidence in the trial. We all watch intently. “Do I need lawyer or something?” my client asks in broken English. “You are free to leave,” responds the detective. The detective does not answer my client’s question as to whether or not he needs a lawyer. He also does not ask him if he needs an interpreter. He doesn’t ask if he speaks any languages other than English. He proceeds.

He proceeds to ask questions about the day of the incident. We all watch and become more and more confused as we listen to the detective try to make sense of my client’s statements. We listen as he tries to guide my client into agreeing with him. “So she was asleep.” “No, she was awake.” “But when she was on the couch, she was asleep.” “No, on the couch she was awake.” And, so on. In many instances it is absolutely unclear what my client says. What day is he talking about? What place?

As the video concludes, we watch the detective tell my client that he has to arrest him. We watch the detective handcuff my client after an hour of back and forth, an hour of misinterpretation of the facts. Not then and not earlier is my client afforded the opportunity to speak to an Attorney. He is handcuffed and processed on four Felony charges.

The Jury watches closely, trying to make sense of what was said in the video confession. Did my client confess to anything? Did he even speak enough English to communicate with the detective? Did he understand the questions? The Jury doesn’t buy the false confession obtained through misinterpretation and misunderstanding of facts; obtained in violation of my client’s 5th Amendment rights under our Constitution. Their verdict is not guilty.

Yesenia L. Polanco-Galdamez is an immigration lawyer at Fayad Law, P.C., and represents clients in North Carolina.

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