Escobedo v. Illinois, 378 U.S. 478 (1964)

Danny Escobedo was arrested by police and told that another suspect, Benedict DiGerlando, had named him as the person that fired the fatal shot that killed Escobedo’s brother-in-law Manuel. Escobedo, refusing to admit his involvement, asked to see his lawyer. At about the same time, Escobedo’s lawyer arrived and asked to speak to his client. Both Escobedo and his lawyer were denied their requests. After some time, the police officers told Escobedo that if he would testify against DiGerlando they would set him free. Without access to his lawyer and without being informed of his right to remain silent, Escobedo made statements against DiGerlando that incriminated himself. These statements were later used to help convict Escobedo of murder.

The Supreme Court of Illinois affirmed the conviction, holding that the statements were admissible because they were made voluntarily even though without the assistance of counsel. The U.S. Supreme Court reversed. The Court found that statements shall be inadmissible when the circumstances of an investigation are such that (1) the person under investigation becomes the target of the investigation, (2) he is not informed of his right to remain silent, (3) he has asked for but been denied access to counsel, and (4) he makes statements that will be prejudicial later at trial. The Court’s opinion severely restricted how police obtain confessions by making it clear that the right to counsel extends beyond the formal institution of proceedings to include pre-indictment examinations. The opinion would lead to the landmark Miranda v. Arizona decision.

MARCEL GREEN

References and Further Reading

  • Israel, Jerold H., Yale Kamisar, and Wayne R. LaFave. Criminal Procedure and the Constitution. St.Paul, MN: West, 2005.

Cases and Statutes Cited

  • Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966)

See also Coerced Confessions/Police Interrogations; Miranda Warning; Right to Counsel

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