Lying to federal authorities such as the FBI is a crime that is punishable by up to five years in federal prison. Over the past year or so, many people have become aware of this crime due to recent highly publicized cases that have filled the headlines relating to the ongoing Special Counsel’s investigation of foreign interference in the 2016 election. Indictments have been unsealed relating to multiple defendants pleading guilty, being sentenced by a judge and sent to prison for this crime. Others await sentencing after negotiating plea deals for this crime as well as others.
However the same circumstance doesn’t apply for lying to local or state law enforcement authorities. It’s important to know that difference. Although statements you make to a police officer (true or false) can be used and held against you in a court of law whether your Miranda rights have been read to you or not at the time your statements were made, but the act of telling a lie in itself is not a crime.
Those who have visited my Website, or read articles here on my blog have been educated strongly to never speak when questioned by police or any other type of law enforcement authorities without an attorney present. It is also crucial not to volunteer information. This instruction is imperative whether an arrest has been made or the possibility of one may be pending. Even if police believe you’re only a witness to a possible crime you have the right to say nothing to them if they question you until an attorney is present.
However, although it is important not to talk to police if your statement may incriminate you; not that witnesses should not cooperate since this might be construed as an obstruction of justice.
Yet, the statements you make to police officers can be held against you in a court of law whether your Miranda rights have been read to you or not if you decide to volunteer information.
Throughout many pages on my Website this subject is presented and emphasized.
One example can be found on this page which clearly states: “Attending a pre-trial hearing without a knowledgeable attorney to provide proper representation can leave an individual at the sole mercy of the prosecutor and the presiding judge”. Or you can read this page relating to arrests which will explain all of your right and explains “Give as little information to law enforcement officials as possible; or preferably don’t speak at all, until an attorney is retained and present to advise you.”
Another scenario which makes an attorney’s job more difficult is if a person volunteers information to authorities before questions are even asked. This was the case in this month’s article below.
On July 12, 2018, Gabriela Perero called 911 telling the dispatcher that she needed help as her mother was experiencing severe chest pains. However when first responders from Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue arrived at the scene they found Gabriela’s mother Luisa Perero lying in bed “with trauma on her body consistent with beating type injuries.”
Before paramedics could even begin to administer aid, Gabriela began describing in vivid detail how her mother had wound up in her present condition. According to EMTs who first worked on Luisa, her agitated daughter made several spontaneous remarks telling a story of how she attacked her mother which resulted in her injuries.
Apparently, Gabriela found out that she was not included in her mother’s will while all of her other siblings were. When police arrived she told a harrowing story of how she became enraged and began breaking household items specifically picture frames while she rummaged through her mother’s papers in drawers and cabinets.
She then went much further, physically directing her anger at her mother.
Gabriela complained to police that she had been living with her mother and taking care of her while none of her other brothers and sisters did anything to assist the 85-year old woman. It seems that something just snapped when she found out she wasn’t included in her will.
She went on to tell investigators that during the ensuing argument she violently pushed her mother to the floor and then grabbed her with such ferocity that she ripped the skin from both of her arms. She then clutched her around the neck and squeezed, choking the woman close to a state of unconsciousness.
During the alleged beating detectives said that the younger woman yelled at her mother “You destroyed my life so I’m going to destroy you.”
According to investigators, based on what they were told, once Gabriela’s fury died down, she walked her mother to the bathroom and cleaned her head which was bleeding from when her daughter pushed her to the floor. After that she then told investigators that she put her mother in bed and called 911 to request assistance.
She continued volunteering information by telling Fort Lauderdale police officers “I guess I’m going to jail. I beat up my mom” She then continued impulsively pronouncing “I pushed her down, grabbed her, and tore the skin off her arm… I did it all… I don’t want her to die.”
At this point she was put into handcuffs and led to a waiting police cruiser where she continued muttering the same damning statements over and over. Throughout it all she complained about how she was cheated from her duly earned inheritance.
Further, as she sat in the squad car she was heard by officers asserting “I killed my mom” and “I’m sorry.” Officers also overhead her murmuring about the inheritance concern, that her mother was leaving everything “to her siblings and not her who cares for her.”
The elder Perero was taken to Broward Health Medical Center in critical condition where doctors witnessed the skin on both of her arms badly scratched and torn. They also found severe lacerations on the back of her head. She was pronounced dead upon admission to the hospital, but emergency procedures were able to bring back a pulse and later went into a coma.
At this point Gabriela was charged with attempted murder; however her mother lost the battle for her life the following morning.
She was then charged with premeditated murder, a capital offense. She was arraigned on August 31, 2018 and a Status Hearing has been set for November 9.
Although her arrest took place on July 14 (arrest report); the date of the incident, she didn’t request her Miranda rights in writing until July 18, and a public defender wasn’t appointed to advocate for her until July 24.
Her Miranda rights were verbally given to her at the time of her arrest.
A knowledgeable criminal defense attorney should be easily able to knock down the charges from Capital murder to murder in the second degree.
Although the crime was certainly heinous and obvious damning statements were made, under Fla Stat 782.04 (2) the crime of Second Degree Murder is committed when a person commits either Murder with a Depraved Mind or Accomplice Felony Murder. The primary distinction between premeditated first degree murder and Second degree murder with a depraved mind is that first degree murder requires a specific and premeditated intent to kill; accomplice second degree order occurs when you are an accomplice to a person who kills another human being while engaged in the commission or attempted commission of certain statutorily enumerated felonies.
So to use the example here of a daughter who has killed her mother out of rage due to her elimination as an heir to her mother’s inheritance, such facts would support a second degree murder charge since there was no specific and premeditated intent to kill. Rather this was a killing which took place in the heat of passion and which arose spontaneously.
Michael Cohen is a Fort Lauderdale based Criminal Defense Attorney specializing in the defense of federal crimes. You can follow his twitter feed and read similar blog posts here or on his Facebook page by following the above links.