The Supreme Court handed a major victory to law enforcement officers in a recent ruling, specifically in terms of providing them protection from absurd lawsuits launched by opportunistic criminals seeking to not only receive acquittal, but also a monetary payout, from their crimes.
Including sexual assault crimes.
According to the Court’s 6-3 ruling, law enforcement officers cannot be sued for monetary damages if they obtain incriminatory statements without fully detailing their rights under the Fifth Amendment, as one criminal suspect attempted to do.
The case, which involved deputy sheriff Carlos Vega, centered on a criminal who attempted to sue the sheriff for not properly advising him of his rights before receiving a voluntary, written statement.
Terence Tekoh, who was employed by a hospital, was accused of sexually assaulting a vulnerable patient in the hospital in 2014.
The patient reported that she had been touched inappropriately by Tekoh, who promptly confessed despite not being in custody.
In the aftermath of the incident, he provided a written confession to Vega regarding the incident, though he had not been advised of his purported Miranda Rights, which fall under the umbrella of the Fifth Amendment.
The Miranda Rights emerged from a 1966 Supreme Court case, Miranda v. Arizona, which held that police must inform criminals of their rights prior to receiving any kind of confession.
These rights include remaining silent, as well as having legal counsel present.
As a result of not having his Miranda Rights read, Tekoh was acquitted and did not face punishment for sexually assaulting a hospital patient.
However, dissatisfied with merely being acquitted, Tekoh attempted to profit from his crime by suing Vega for not having his Miranda Rights read to him, a lawsuit that culminated in the Supreme Court case.
Tekoh did not deny the crime, but he argued that he did not voluntarily give a confession, claiming instead that Vega had coerced him into a confession.
While a jury in the lower court backed Vega, a higher court in San Francisco supported the criminal, claiming that Vega had violated his Fifth Amendment rights.
Fortunately, the Supreme Court overturned the San Francisco court’s ruling, which provided law enforcement officers across the nation with enormous relief.
According to Vega’s lawyers, the decision in San Francisco would have “[saddled] police departments nationwide with extraordinary burdens in connection with lawful and appropriate investigative work.”
Furthermore, the absurd San Francisco ruling would also make “virtually any police interaction with a criminal suspect” impossible, given the nonstop liability that would ensue.