Challenging the Denial of a Motion to Suppress Based on Violent Police Activity in Arizona

Can a defendant successfully suppress incriminating statements he made during a confession because of violent conduct from the police? In short, sometimes. A recent case coming out of the Court of Appeals of Arizona, First Division explores this question, and the case ultimately decided that when the police officers’ violent conduct happens separately from the interrogation itself, there are not necessarily grounds to suppress the defendant’s incriminating statements.

Facts of the Case

In the May 2024 case, the defendant was a suspect in a local homicide. The defendant’s wife thought he might have had something to do with the crime, and she reported it to the police. Officers eventually arrested the defendant and brought him in for a six-hour interrogation. After five hours, the defendant confessed to the crime. He filed a motion to suppress this confession, which the trial court denied.

On appeal, though, the defendant argued that the officers’ restriction on his freedom of movement meant that he made his confession involuntarily (and therefore, he argued, it should have been suppressed). According to the defendant, officers arrived to arrest him with rifles and canines, which was violent, and which contributed to his involuntary statement. He asked the court to consider this violent conduct when ruling on his appeal.

Arrest v. Custody

The court drew a couple of different conclusions in the case. First of all, it was not clear whether the officers’ arrest was, indeed, “violent.” Even if the conduct did rise to the level of violence, though, these actions took place at the moment of the defendant’s arrest. There is a difference, said the court, between arrest and custody. The defendant in this case was not in custody when the officers’ conduct took place, so it was unrelated to the confession. This meant the defendant’s argument had no merit.

Implications for Other Defendants

Even though the defendant lost on appeal, there are times when violent police conduct can result in favorable results during litigation. While no one wants to find themselves in the position of being subject to violent police activity, it is important to consult a qualified Phoenix criminal defense attorney as soon as possible after the incident to figure out if there might be grounds to take legal action.

Do You Need a Phoenix Violent Crimes Attorney in Your Corner?

Unfortunately, the legal landscape for violent crimes in Arizona can be tough to navigate. At the Law Office of James E. Novak, we are experts in offering solid, informed legal advice for the accused in Phoenix. Our team has decades of experience, and we are proud to leverage that experience to get our clients the results they need, when those results matter most. For a free and confidential consultation with an expert Phoenix violent crimes attorney, give us a call today at 480-413-1499. You can also fill out our online form to tell us about your case and have a member of our team get back in touch with you as soon as possible to discuss next steps.

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