The now familiar police warnings which derive from the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966) and which are given to those suspected of a crime and about to be interrogated (“You have a right to remain silent;” “Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law,” etc.) have become ingrained in our popular culture. Though well-intentioned, these warnings need to be updated and amplified to meet the needs of a changing legal landscape.
Immigration law has become more complex and volatile than it used to be. The removal of individuals from the country continues to produce vexing questions which have no real answers in sight. In fact, many suspects who are not U.S. citizens potentially face deportation if they are convicted of certain offenses. And before that happens, many non-citizens suspected of a crime may harm their cases when they incriminate themselves without knowing the possible immigration consequences that could befall them later.
That is why Vineland, New Jersey attorney Louis Charles Shapiro, Esquire, has filed a motion in Superior Court, Cumberland County, asking New Jersey courts to adopt a “Miranda-plus” proposed warning to be used in all law enforcement interrogations as follows:
If you are not a United States citizen, anything you say ultimately may result in negative immigration consequences and your removal from the United States if you later are convicted of a deportable offense.
It should be understood that this is not currently the state of our law. But based on the flexibility permitted by the U.S. Supreme Court’s own Miranda decision, and the expansive nature of New Jersey’s own state Constitution, a good-faith basis exists for the modest and incremental extension and development of the law on self-incrimination.
It is the law that a criminal defendant needs to be given sound advice about immigration consequences before he incriminates himself on the back end of a criminal case – at the guilty plea stage. It therefore stands to reason that the same level of protection needs to be put in place at the front end of the case. The front end of the case, the interrogation, is arguably no less a critical stage of a criminal proceeding than the point at which a defendant makes a choice to plead guilty or to proceed to trial. Indeed, having a warning of the type prescribed is even more important at the interrogation stage because what happens during a police interrogation can set the tone for, and dictate the outcome of, a criminal case.