Tampa, Florida, law enforcement officers who sought to apprehend Kevin Dewayne Powell in connection with a robbery investigation entered an apartment rented by Powell's girlfriend. After spotting Powell coming from a bedroom, the officers searched the room and discovered a loaded nine-millimeter handgun under the bed. The officers arrested Powell and transported him to police headquarters. Once there, and before asking Powell any questions, the officers read Powell the standard Tampa Police Department Consent and Release Form. That form stated:
You have the right to remain silent. If you give up the right to remain silent, anything you say can be used against you in court. You have the right to talk to a lawyer before answering any of our questions. If you cannot afford to hire a lawyer, one will be appointed for you without cost and before any questioning. You have the right to use any of these rights at any time you want during this interview. Acknowledging that he had been informed of his rights, that he "understood them," and that he was "willing to talk" to the officers, Powell signed the form. He then admitted that he owned the handgun found in the apartment. Powell knew he was prohibited from possessing a gun because he had previously been convicted of a felony, but said he had nevertheless purchased and carried the firearm for his protection. Powell was charged in state court with possession of a weapon by a prohibited possessor, in violation of Florida law. He moved to suppress (i.e., exclude from evidence) his inculpatory statements. As the basis for this motion, Powell contended that the Content and Release Form read to him was deficient for Miranda warnings purposes because the form did not adequately convey his right to the presence of an attorney during questioning. (In the Miranda decision, the U.S. Supreme Court required that among the rights of which persons subjected to custodial interrogation must be informed is "the right to consult with a lawyer and to have the lawyer with him during interrogation.") The trial court denied the motion, concluding that the officers had properly notified Powell of his right to counsel. A jury convicted Powell of the gunpossession charge. On appeal, both Florida's intermediate court of appeals and Florida's highest court held that Powell had not been adequately apprised of his right to have an attorney present during interrogation (as required by Miranda) and that his statements therefore should have been suppressed. The U.S. Supreme Court granted the state of Florida's certiorari petition. What did the Supreme Court decide? Was Powell adequately advised of his Miranda right to have an attorney present during questioning?

  • CreatedJuly 16, 2014
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