It only seems logically to record interrogations, as that's the moment when may confessions take place. Having these recordings allow for an accurate depiction of how the conversation occurred as well as if the confession seemed honest and truthful or possibly forced or coerced through pressure by the interrogating officer. However, Florida is one of the states in the United States that doesn't legally require for interrogations to be recorded. Senate Bill 204 aims to change that.
Why It's Important to Record Interrogations
In a recent Florida case, the wife of the Pulse nightclub shooter was acquitted after it discovered that there was no proof of the FBI's claim of her confessing to being part of the attack. There was no evidence other than the alleged confession. Because the FBI couldn't prove it the jury never got to hear the confession and it led to her being let off of the charges.
There's also the case of a man who was freed after 26 years for a crime he didn't commit. According to the Sun-Sentinel, Anthony Caravella was 15 and mentally challenged with an IQ of 67 when, his attorney says, the former investigators from Miramar and the Broward Sheriff's Office coerced him into falsely confessing to the November 1983 slaying of 58-year-old Ada Cox Jankowski on the grounds of Miramar Elementary School. After 26 years, DNA was able to prove his innocence. Had the interrogations been recorded, there's a chance that the tape would have shown how the officers forced him into confessing to a crime he didn't commit.
Senate Bill 204 Aims to Change Interrogation Recording Laws in Florida
Senate Bill 204, is currently being voted on and it states, "Requiring that a custodial interrogation at a place of detention be electronically recorded in its entirety in connection with certain offenses; requiring law enforcement officers who do not comply with the electronic recording requirement or who conduct custodial interrogations at a place other than a place of detention to prepare a specified report; prohibiting introduction into or possession of any cellular telephone or other portable communication device on the grounds of any county detention facility, etc."
This basically means that if the bill were to pass it would require, with a few exceptions, every law-enforcement office in the state to record interrogations when suspects are in custody for serious crimes. The bill has already been approved unanimously in the first Senate committee last week.
According to the Orlando Sun Sentinel, Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes, the Tampa Bay-area sponsor of Senate Bill 1220, says the law is overdue. "If we have standards for body cameras, we should have them for interrogations," he said.
If you or a loved one are being charged for a crime where the confession during interrogation wasn't recorded, an experienced criminal defense attorney like Russell Spatz may be able to help you protect your rights. He can be reached at (305) 442-0200.
Maxwell, S. (2018, February 06). Recorded interrogations should be standard procedure in Florida. Retrieved from https://www.orlandosentinel.com/opinion/os-recorded-interrogations-florida-scott-maxwell-20180205-story.html
Maxwell, S. (2018, March 31). In trial of Pulse shooter's widow, the missing recorded 'confession' was the biggest flaw. Retrieved from https://www.orlandosentinel.com/opinion/os-noor-salman-pulse-recorded-interrogation-scott-maxwell-20180329-story.html