Florida v. Powell

559 U.S. 50, 130 S. Ct. 1195 (2010)



In determining whether police officers adequately conveyed the Miranda warnings, reviewing courts are not required to examine the words employed as if construing a will or defining the terms of an easement. The inquiry is simply whether the warnings reasonably convey to a suspect his rights as required by Miranda.


Kevin D. Powell was convicted in a Florida state court of being a felon in possession of a firearm and sentenced to 10 years in prison. Mr. Powell appealed arguing that his Miranda warning was invalid because the written form used by the Tampa police at his arrest did not explicitly indicate that he had a right to an attorney at his questioning. The court of appeals agreed and reversed the conviction. On appeal, the Florida Supreme Court affirmed, holding that informing a defendant that he has the right to "talk with an attorney" is not sufficient to inform him of his right to have counsel present.


Does the failure to provide explicit advice of right to presence of counsel during questioning invalidate Miranda warnings that advise both a) right to talk to a lawyer "before questioning" and b) the right to consult a lawyer "at any time" during the questioning?


a) Yes.; b) No


The Supreme Court also reversed the Florida Supreme Court, holding that while Miranda requires that a suspect "be warned prior to any questioning" and "that he has the right to the presence of an attorney, "it does not dictate the words in which the essential information must be conveyed. Rather, to determine whether police warnings are satisfactory, the inquiry is simply whether the warnings reasonably conveyed to a suspect his rights as required by Miranda. Here, Mr. Powell received warnings that satisfied this standard.

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