Tex.: Mere Miranda violation doesn’t automatically lead to suppression of physical evidence

A Miranda violation doesn’t automatically lead to suppression of physical evidence. The question is involuntariness and actual coercion, and then it could be. Wells v. State, 2020 Tex. Crim. App. LEXIS 944 (Nov. 18, 2020):

As a preliminary matter, we note that Appellant’s claims rely on the premise that a Miranda violation (a potential Fifth Amendment violation) can lead to the exclusion of evidence—other than the unwarned statements—under Article 38.23 or the Fourth Amendment. We expressly rejected this avenue for relief in Baker v. State, stating that “mere violations of the Miranda rule are not covered by the state exclusionary rule contained in Article 38.23.” Baker v. State, 956 S.W.2d 19, 24 (Tex. Crim. App. 1997). The Supreme Court, too, has repeatedly emphasized that the “‘complete and sufficient remedy’ for any perceived Miranda violation” is exclusion of the unwarned statements. United States v. Patane, 542 U.S. 630, 641-42 (2004) (quoting Chavez v. Martinez, 538 U.S. 760, 790 (2003) (Kennedy, J., concurring in part and dissenting in [*12] part)).

Further, even though a statement taken in violation of Miranda must be suppressed at trial, other evidence subsequently obtained as a result of that statement (i.e., the “fruits” of the statement) need not be suppressed. Baker, 956 S.W.2d at 22 (citing Oregon v. Elstad, 470 U.S. 298, 314 (1985), and Michigan v. Tucker, 417 U.S. 433, 452 (1974)). The fruits of a defendant’s statement need only be suppressed when the statement is obtained through actual coercion—which Appellant has not alleged, nor have we found in our review of the record. See id. (citing Elstad, 470 U.S. at 314, and Tucker, 417 U.S. at 448-49).

The court below rejected Appellant’s suppression motion in part on its finding that Barron learned Appellant’s name and address from an independent source before he interviewed him. This finding was supported at the suppression hearing by testimony and documents. The documents included handwritten notes from the scene, the call sheet record documenting the time stamps of the NCIC inquiry, and Nguyen’s posting of its return, all of which preceded Barron’s un-Mirandized interview. The trial court concluded that this prior independent knowledge foreclosed relief under the “independent source doctrine.” See generally Wehrenberg v. State, 416 S.W.3d 458, 464-73 (Tex. Crim. App. 2013) (adopting federal independent source doctrine and holding that, despite prior illegality, evidence lawfully obtained from an independent source was not “obtained” in violation of the law and was not subject to suppression under Article 38.23); see also Segura v. United States, 468 U.S. 796, 813-15 (1984) (establishing that, notwithstanding prior unlawful police conduct, evidence seized pursuant to a valid warrant informed by an independent source was not subject to exclusion); Nix v. Williams, 467 U.S. 431, 443 (1984) (providing that evidence obtained from a lawful source, separate from any illegal conduct by law enforcement was not subject to exclusion).

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