“Lawful coercion” – when not explained consequences of refusal

July 5, 2013

Lawful coercionIn Bumper v. North Carolina 391 U.S 542 (1968), the Supreme Court ruled that consent is not valid (i.e. no consent) when official conducting the search informed the owner of house that he possesses a warrant and then asked for consent.  The argument of USSC based on claim of coercion – they called it “lawful coercion“.

In determining whether a criminal defendant was convicted “according to law,” the test is not and cannot be simply whether this Court finds credible the evidence against him. Crediting or discrediting evidence is the function of the trier of fact, in this case a jury. The jury’s verdict is a lawful verdict, however, only if it is based upon evidence constitutionally admissible. When it is not, as it is not here, reversal rests on the oldest and most fundamental principle of our criminal jurisprudence —that a defendant is entitled to put the prosecution to its lawful proof.

Interestingly – this case can be used effectively for DUI defense by claiming that when officer says “you have to submit to chemical test – which one you chose?” is a violation of Bumper v. NC and is “lawful coercion”.  Although California has implied consent statutes which require for a person arrested by law enforcement to submit to a chemical test – such statute does not authorize compulsion – the test is still voluntary.  When officer does not explain consequences of refusing to submit to a chemical test, and instead simply says that motorist is required to submit to a test without explaining the consequences of not to do so, the defendant consent is coerced.

This tactic can be used to win in DUI cases in Los Angeles courts universally as long as officers used “lawful coercion”.  For example, if after a DUI stop, officer makes you submit to a chemical test, that is a ground to suppress the result of the blood or breath test and potentially win your DUI case.  Los Angeles DUI defense attorneys skilled in search and seizure motions can effectively represent you and suppress the breath and blood results, winning your case.

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