OUI and MIRANDA

OUI AND MIRANDA

COMMONWEALTH VS. ROBERT J. PERRON

(JAN. 2019) 

A Trial Court jury convicted the defendant, Robert J. Perron, of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor (OUI). On appeal, the defendant argued:

  • That his motion to suppress statements he made to a State trooper regarding his alcohol consumption should have been allowed
  • That the admission of the statements in question violated his right to Miranda warnings
  • That the Commonwealth failed to prove impairment

The Appellate Court ultimately ruled:

  • That admission of the defendant’s statements was a harmful error
  • That the judgment would be REVERSED
  • That the verdict and finding on the charge of operating a motor vehicle under the influence of intoxicating liquor, subsequent offense, would be set aside

Testifying for the Commonwealth at trial, State Trooper Paul Bertozzi stated that on the night of the defendant’s arrest, the defendant admitted to drinking “two small bottles of red wine” and self-assessed his level of intoxication at a “two” on a scale of one to ten, with one being completely sober.

The Court agreed with the Defense that the statements were inadmissible under Miranda. At the motion hearing, Bertozzi testified that he orally administered the warnings to the defendant upon his arrest and that the defendant “indicate[d] that he understood those rights”. However, on cross-examination, Bertozzi contradicted himself, testifying that the defendant never “indicated to [me] at all that he understood those rights”, that “he was waiving those rights”, or “that he wanted to speak to [me] about the incident”. The Court concluded that because of that contradiction, no one gave the defendant his constitutionally required Miranda warnings.

Furthermore, the Court determined that it could not conclude that the unresolved conflicting testimony rose to proof beyond a reasonable doubt. The judge also made no explicit findings that the defendant understood the warnings or knowingly waived his Miranda rights. Combining these two considerations, the Court concluded that in the absence of a supportable finding that the defendant understood the Miranda warnings and knowingly waived them, it could not conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant waived his Miranda rights.

The Commonwealth did introduce testimony as to the defendant’s slurred speech, glassy eyes, and the odor of alcohol coming from his breath. However, absent the defendant’s statement on what exactly he drank, there was no evidence as to the amount or type of alcohol the defendant consumed. Furthermore, absent to the defendant’s admission of consuming two small bottles of wine, the jury might have accepted the defendant’s explanation that a prior back injury resulting in two broken bones and not alcohol interfered with his ability to perform his field sobriety tests properly.

Thus, taking all these considerations into account, the Appellate Court reversed the guilty judgment on the charge of operating a motor vehicle under the influence of intoxicating liquor, subsequent offense, and set aside the verdict and finding.

IF YOU OR A LOVED ONE HAVE BEEN CHARGED WITH A CRIME, AND YOU NEED AN EXPERIENCED CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER WORKING ON YOUR SIDE TO PROTECT YOUR RIGHTS, PLEASE CONTACT CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY WILLIAM J. BARABINO.

 CALL 781-393-5900 TO LEARN MORE ABOUT YOUR AVAILABLE DEFENSES.

Source: Commonwealth vs. Jonathan G. Alves, 17-P-965

Categories: Blog

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