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Use of Jailhouse Informants


Illinois v. Perkins

The United States Supreme Court has handed down a new ruling which further damages the dictates of the Miranda holding. Basically, what it allows police to do is – when they have somebody in custody who they believe might have committed a crime and that person won’t talk to them – they can send either a police officer in there posing as an inmate or they could send an inmate in there directly attempting to get the person to confess to whatever charge they hope to get them to confess to.

In Illinois v. Perkins, Perkins was in there and they believed that he had committed a murder. He wouldn’t make any statements in there, so they sent somebody in there and basically said, hey have you killed anybody and then he confessed to the murder and he was charged and convicted of the murder. So, basically, this is another angle where they can get around the Miranda decision and they’re getting people left-and-right with this trick of sending people in there to get them to make a statement and then using that statement against them.

The real angle that the United States Supreme Court is indicating is okay is because when somebody goes in there who is an informant – whether they be an undercover police officer or a fellow inmate, it’s not that same police-dominated atmosphere as it is with someone violating the Miranda warnings where the police have you in custody. They’re yelling at you and screaming at you trying to get you to make a confession. They haven’t read your Miranda rights – that’s what they’re claiming Miranda protects against. But again, I think this is a ridiculous ruling and sometimes people – especially when they’re in a custody situation, just start shooting their mouth off and saying stupid stuff. I’ve had a bunch of cases where clients are asked, have you ever done this? Have you ever done that? And just to sound tough and not be messed with in jail, they admit and say they did a bunch of stuff that they really didn’t do. So again, this erosion of Miranda just continues. I’ve been doing this for twenty-five years and I’ve seen the Miranda holding attacked left-and-right by courts across the country because I’ve practiced federal criminal defense. I’ve seen the United States Supreme Court just poke holes in it and of course, courts all over LA County deny Miranda violation motions. So, people think they have all these great Miranda rights, but they have to just be careful.

The bottom line is, your biggest right is just to keep your mouth shut. Be quiet. Do not talk to law enforcement. Do not give them any statement. Do not try to talk your way out of it because they can take your statement and then they can add some extra stuff in there. They can claim you did or said something that you really didn’t do or mean. So, the bottom line is, this new ruling – Illinois v. Perkins – where they’re allowed to put jailhouse informants in LA and across the country, because of this United States Supreme Court ruling – is horrible.

There are all types of different things going on. The next thing they’re going to do is try to start trying to build off this ruling. The new thing is now the police are going to come and try to talk to you. You’re going to assert your Miranda rights and say no, I don’t want to talk to you, and then they’re going to send the informant in there. Somehow, there’s a chance that the United States Supreme Court can say that is okay. So, the bottom line is this – if you’re involved with the police, do not talk to them. Do not make any statements. If you have made a statement that has incriminated you, get to a criminal defense attorney right away. Give him all the information, and somebody like me s going to look at every possible angle and try to challenge a ruling like this Illinois v. Perkins and do everything I can to keep you out of custody and get you out of the criminal justice system as fast as possible.

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About the Author

Named Top Los Angeles Criminal Attorney by LA Times and named one of the Top 100 criminal defense attorneys in California by the National Trial Lawyers Association. I'm the attorney other lawyers hire to defend them.