An Arizona appellate court’s July 2023 decision in an assault case highlights the importance of safeguarding the defendant’s right to remain silent during interrogation. In this case, the defendant was convicted of aggravated assault and endangerment. A police officer interrogated the defendant, and he declined to answer several of her questions. Later, after a jury trial, the defendant was convicted of the crimes. He promptly appealed, and the court reversed the conviction and remanded the case for a new trial.
Facts of the Case
According to the opinion, the defendant was driving by his old apartment building when he saw an acquaintance walking on the sidewalk. The defendant and the acquaintance exchanged some words, and the defendant pulled out a gun and fired several shots at the acquaintance. Police arrived at the scene and arrested the defendant.
Officers took the defendant to the station, where they read him his Miranda rights and asked a series of questions. At several points during the 30-minute interview, the defendant stated that he wanted to “pass” on the question and avoid answering for the time being. The defendant’s case went to trial, and he was found guilty of aggravated assault and endangerment.