The case of Chavez v Martinez provides an interesting read to anyone pursuing criminal law. It touches on issues that are frequently brought up during criminal investigations. The constitutional rights of criminals are to be upheld during and after investigations, a matter that led to the case of Chavez v Martinez. According to the Fifth Amendment, criminals or suspects in custody are protected from self-incrimination. This implies that they cannot issue statements that can be used against them in a criminal case. From the case in question, the suspect, Martinez, insists that his statutory rights were violated when he was interrogated without his consent.
In Miranda v Arizona, a ruling by the Supreme Court held that suspects have to be informed of their Fifth Amendment right before admitting to any self-incriminating statement. Contrary action results in a violation of their right. Chavez did not inform Martinez of his right. He went on to interrogate him despite Martinez’s reluctance. In addition, Chavez did not make it clear whether or not any charges will be made against the suspect. Therefore, I think that Martinez’s Fifth Amendment rights were violated. Although other subsequent rulings differ with those of Miranda, such as that of Berghuis v Thompkins, consideration should be given to those that are not quite familiar with the law. The Supreme Court in Berghuis v Thompkins holds that, a suspect has to invoke the Fifth Amendment right if they do not want their statements to be used against them.
An analysis of Martinez’s Fourteenth Amendment rights points at both a violation and a non-violation. The petitioner, Chavez, did not use any abusive or unlawful tactic to get information from Martinez. There is evidence to show that Martinez was not subjected to any situations that compromised his human dignity. The fact that Chavez gave room for medical practitioners to attend to Martinez in between interrogative sessions is enough evidence that the former upheld the human dignity of the suspect. Conversely, the interrogation can be said to be intrusive and infringing on the suspect’s human rights. Martinez was injured, and Chavez had an obligation to uphold his right to privacy. Although the state of the suspect’s health could not be ascertained at the time, Chavez should have waited for him to recover. Such an argument would therefore, point at a violation of Martinez’s Fourteenth Amendment right. This case had a landmark ruling, one that would affect the future of criminal investigations. This is despite the fact that the law constantly changes, meaning that rulings can be reversed any time.
With regard to terrorism related investigations, Chavez’ case has provided domestic law enforcement with the means to conduct more coercive interrogations. Given the huge threat that terrorism poses, any information gathered by whatever means would be crucial in fighting the menace. Looking closely at the risk that terrorists expose themselves to, it is evident that, without a certain degree of coercion, no information would be forthcoming. Through Chavez’s case, attention is drawn to a method of coercion that is not dehumanizing, yet still intrusive. Most terrorists belong to certain larger affiliations and are often under instructions from a higher authority. Their loyalty to those they serve is a limitation to criminal investigations and a hindrance to deserved justice. I, therefore, think that enhanced methods of coercion should be used during their interrogations.
The decision in this case supports more intense interrogation techniques largely. The judges held that no rights of the suspect were violated. Domestic law enforcers may fail to inform suspects of their rights and proceed with investigations, as in the case of Martinez. Alternatively, they could be coerced to forfeit their rights, with the promise of not being prosecuted. Furthermore, law enforcers could use tactics such as that of Chavez, by carrying out interrogations when the suspect is not in their right frame of mind.
Although Miranda warnings are fundamental to all suspects, I do not think that terrorism suspects should receive such warning. As aforementioned, terrorism is a major threat to national and public safety. Therefore, any negotiations with suspects of the same should not be allowed. Issuing terrorism suspects with Miranda warnings may limit the amount of information they give. Although domestic terrorism suspects such as the Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad and Boston marathon bomber Dzohkar Tsarnaev are also governed by the same law as other citizens, terrorism should be treated as a special case (F.B.I. Memorandum 1). This is not in the league of other crimes as it targets the larger society rather than few individuals, thus derailing public safety. Besides, the issuance of Miranda warnings is not constitutional and only serves as a measure of preserving the Fifth Amendment right.
There exists an exception of public safety to the Miranda warnings, which permits law enforcement to carry out unwarned interrogations, and use the information gathered as evidence in court (Benoit and J.D. 1). This is done to neutralize the threat of the attack in due time. This exception to the Miranda rule has been implemented in the wake of heightened terrorist activities, including the attempted bombing of northwest airlines flight 235 in 2009 near Detroit.
Benoit Carl A., J.D. The “Public Safety” Exception to Miranda.The FBI, 2011. Web. October 3, 2013. <http://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/publications/law-enforcement-bulletin/february2011/legal_digest>
F.B.I. Memorandum. The New York Times, 2011. October 3, 2013. <http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/25/us/25miranda-text.html?_r=0>