Salinas v. Texas

PETITIONER: Genovevo Salinas
RESPONDENT: Texas
LOCATION: Houston Police Department Headquarters

DOCKET NO.: 12-246
DECIDED BY: Roberts Court (2010-2016)
LOWER COURT: Texas Court of Criminal Appeals

CITATION: 570 US (2013)
GRANTED: Jan 11, 2013
ARGUED: Apr 17, 2013
DECIDED: Jun 17, 2013

ADVOCATES:
Alan K. Curry - for the respondent
Ginger D. Anders - Assistant to the Solicitor General, Department of Justice, for the United States as amicus curiae supporting the respondent
Jeffrey L. Fisher - for the petitioner

Facts of the case

In 1992, Houston police officers found two homicide victims. The investigation led officers to Genovevo Salinas. Salinas agreed to accompany the officers to the police station where he was questioned for about one hour. Salinas was not under arrest at this time and had not been read his Miranda rights. Salinas answered every question until an officer asked whether the shotgun shells found at the scene of the crime would match the gun found in Salinas' home. According to the officer, Salinas remained silent and demonstrated signs of deception. A ballistics analysis later matched Salinas' gun with the casings at the scene. Police also found a witness who said Salinas admitted to killing the victims. In 1993, Salinas was charged with the murders, but could not be located.

15 years later, Salinas was finally captured. The first trial ended in a mistrial. At the second trial, the prosecution attempted to introduce evidence of Salinas' silence about the gun casings. Salinas objected, arguing that he could invoke his Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination whether he was in custody or not. The trial court admitted the evidence and Salinas was found guilty and sentenced to 20 years in prison and a $5,000 fine. The Fourteenth Court of Appeals, Harris County, Texas affirmed, noting that the courts that have addressed this issue are divided. The Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas affirmed.

Question

Does the Fifth Amendment's Self-Incrimination Clause protects a defendant's refusal to answer questions asked by law enforcement before he has been arrested or read his Miranda rights?

Media for Salinas v. Texas

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 17, 2013 in Salinas v. Texas

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - June 17, 2013 in Salinas v. Texas

John G. Roberts, Jr.:

Justice Alito has our opinion this morning in case 12-246, Salinas versus Texas.

Samuel A. Alito, Jr.:

The question in this is case is whether petitioner Salinas' Fifth Amendment right against compelled self-incrimination was violated when the prosecutor at his trial commented on his failure to respond to a police officer's question during a voluntary noncustodial interview.

We hold that petitioner's right was not violated.

I filed an opinion in which the Chief Justice and Justice Kennedy have joined.

We conclude that there was no Fifth Amendment violation in this case because petitioner failed to invoke the Fifth Amendment privilege.

With limited exceptions that do not apply here, our cases have long required defendants to invoke the privilege in order to benefit from it.

Justice Thomas has filed an opinion concurring in the judgment in which Justice Scalia joins.

Justice Thomas would not extend the Court's holding in Griffin versus California to a defendant's silence during a pre-custodial interview.

Justice Breyer has filed a dissenting opinion in which Justices Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan have joined.

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