United States v. Torres Pimental

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Procedure
  • Date Filed: 06-24-2014
  • Case #: 12-50038
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Pregerson for the court; Circuit Court Judge Fisher, and District Court Judge Daniel
  • Full Text Opinion

When the delay in presenting a defendant to a magistrate judge is unreasonable and unnecessary, statements made prior to appearing before the judge must be suppressed.

Luis Torres Pimental (Torres) was the passenger in a car driving from Mexico to San Diego. The vehicle was harboring approximately 156 pounds of marijuana. The Department of Homeland Security identified the drugs at the border checkpoint and took Torres and the driver into custody. The nearest magistrate judge available for Rule 5 presentment was only a 20-minute drive away in downtown San Diego. However, the enforcement agents failed to drive Torres to the courthouse and instead held him over the long, holiday weekend. Two days after his arrest, Torres was driven to the courthouse. On the drive to the courthouse, an enforcement agent told Torres that if he did not confess to the crime, that his sentence would be longer and that he would suffer greater hardships. Torres confessed to the crime upon arriving at the courthouse. Torres moved to suppress his statements of guilt to the district court, which denied his request. Torres appealed the denial of his motion to suppress. The Ninth Circuit explained that according to the two-part McNabb-Mallory rule, an individual that has been arrested must be presented to a judicial officer as soon as possible in order to be advised of his rights. The panel explained that the first prong of the rule indicates that a confession that comes from an arrested individual within six-hours of arrest is admissible. If the admission came after the initial six-hour period, the confession is inadmissible but for good cause for the delay. This test applies regardless of whether the confession was made voluntarily. The panel held that the 48-hour delay of presentment to a magistrate judge was unreasonable and therefore and the admission of guilt is inadmissible at trial. VACATED and REMANDED.

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