Anderson v. Commonwealth, 279 Va. 85; 688 S.E.2d 605 January 15, 2010
Anderson was indicted for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon in violation of Code § 18.2-308.2. While a police officer was chasing him, he threw a silverish, grayish object, hitting a tree and landing about five or six feet away.
Thereafter, as the officer was handcuffing Anderson, the officer saw that the object was a revolver and asked Andeerson if it was loaded. He answered yes. After discovering that Anderson was a convicted felon, the officer arrested defendant and advised him of his Miranda rights. Anderson subsequently filed a motion to suppress the statements he made about the gun. At the suppression hearing, Anderson argued that his initial statement about the gun was obtained in violation of the Fifth Amendment because he was “in custody” and interrogated without first being advised of his Miranda rights.
The failure to give Miranda warnings prior to custodial interrogation violates an individual’s constitutional rights under the Fifth Amendment; therefore, statements obtained by law enforcement officers in violation of the Miranda rule generally will be subject to exclusion for most proof purposes in a criminal trial.
One narrow exception to the Miranda rule, however, is the public safety exception. The need for answers to questions in a situation posing a threat to the public safety outweighs the need for the prophylactic rule protecting the Fifth Amendment’s privilege against self-incrimination.
The Court concluded that the failure to administer Miranda rights in a situation coming within public safety exception did not taint Defendant’s subsequent statements after he was advised of his Miranda rights.