How a SC DUI conviction held despite incomplete Miranda warning

Miranda WarningDo you know the four parts of a Miranda warning that you are required to be told and the two that law enforcement is not required to advise you about? That knowledge could be the key to winning your case.

The South Carolina Court of Appeals overturned a conviction reversal based upon Miranda warning procedures for a DUI/drunk driving case.

In State v. Hoyle, a decision filed April 4, 2012 by the South Carolina Court of Appeals, the Appellate Court countered the Circuit Court decision to reverse the conviction based upon an “incomplete and inadequate” Miranda warning.  The Appellant Court reinstated Hoyle’s DUI conviction.

State v. Hoyle

In the Hoyle decision, the state argued during the appeal that the circuit court should not have ordered the suppression of the video recording from the incident site for the DUI case against Hoyle. The state argued the arresting officer had issued Hoyle adequate Miranda warnings that fully complied with South Carolina law. The South Carolina Court of Appeals agreed with this argument.

The Hoyle case stemmed from the arrest made on March 21, 2009 stop where Hoyle was arrested and charged with DUI/drunk driving. While being placed under arrest, the arresting officer advised Hoyle, the defendant, of his rights including:

  1.       The right to remain silent

2.       Anything he said could be used against him in the court of law

3.       The right to an attorney

4.       If he could not afford an attorney, one would be appointed to him before any questioning

The Defendant states that the officer did not advise him of:

  1.       His right to terminate an interrogation at any time

  2.       The right to refuse any further questioning

Hoyle was tried at a summary court level and convicted of the DUI/drunk driving charge. Hoyle appealed his conviction to the South Carolina Circuit Court stating that the summary court judge erred in refusing to dismiss charges or suppress certain evidence because he was not fully advised of his Miranda warnings.

The Appeal

During the Circuit Court hearing, Hoyle based his argument on State v. Kennedy (1996).

Under the Kennedy opinion the South Carolina Court of Appeals states, “A Suspect in custody may not be subjected to interrogation unless he is informed that: he has the right to remain silent; anything he says can be used against him in a court of law; he has the right to the presence of an attorney; if he cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to him prior to any questioning, if he so desires; and he has the right to terminate the interrogation at any time and not to answer any further questions.”

Basing their reasoning on the Kennedy opinion regarding the Miranda warning, a South Carolina Circuit Court judge agreed with Hoyle and overturned Hoyle’s summary court conviction for DUI/drunk driving.

The South Carolina Court of Appeals reversed the summary court’s ruling. The Appellate court’s reversal relied heavily on the opinion issued in the State v. Cannon (1973). The Cannon opinion stated an officer was not required to inform a suspect of their right to end questioning at any time.

After also reviewing the actual Miranda opinion, the South Carolina Court of Appeals stated, “The Language in Miranda is clear, that the right to terminate the interrogation at any time and to not answer any further questions is not a required Miranda warning. Miranda only requires four warnings, and the United States Supreme Court did not include the right to terminate the interrogation at any time as one of the enumerated warnings.”

The Opinion

The opinion issued in the Hoyle decision states,

“Based on the forgoing, we find that the South Carolina Supreme Court does not interpret Miranda to require an oral or written warning on the right to terminate an interrogation at any time and to not answer any further questions….a review of the video recording in this case indicated that the officer gave the Defendant all four warnings required by Miranda…therefore, we reverse the circuit court’s order to reinstate Hoyle’s conviction.”

South Carolina Criminal Defense Attorneys

The South Carolina Criminal Defense Attorneys at the Strom Law Firm will fight for your rights in and out of the courtroom. Even if you did not hire us during your initial case, we can still help you file an appeal or apply for post conviction relief. Contact us today for a free consultation to see how we can help. 803.252.4800.

About Pete Strom

Defending criminal charges including drug crimes, DUI, CDV, mail fraud, wire fraud, bank fraud, computer crimes, money laundering, and juvenile crimes, Pete also handles Federal and State investigations. Representing individuals in Civil Matters including Class Actions, Personal Injury, Qui Tam Actions, Defective Products, Nursing Home Neglect, and Professional Licensing Defense cases. Joseph Preston “Pete” Strom, Jr., the managing partner at Strom Law Firm, L.L.C., has been fighting for justice since 1984.

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