After a gun battle with police in which an officer was wounded, police arrested the defendant, a Mexican national. Officers interrogated him through use of an interpreter, complying with the requirements of Miranda. However, the officers never informed him of his right to have the Mexican consulate notified of his detention, as required under Article 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (VCCR). The defendant made admissions that the state sought to use at his trial for attempted murder and related offenses. The trial court denied a pre-trial motion to suppress the statements on grounds of involuntariness and the VCCR violation.
Whether violation of the consular notification provision of the VCCR requires suppression of a suspect’s statements to police.
No. Unlike violations of Fifth and Sixth Amendment constitutional rights, violations of a treaty obligation under the VCCR do not require suppression or exclusion of evidence.
The VCCR itself does not mandate exclusion of evidence or any other specific remedy for violations of its provisions. Instead, U.S. law determines whether the exclusionary rule applies. U.S. courts do not invoke the remedy of exclusion lightly, due to the negative impact on law enforcement objectives and the court’s own truth-finding function, and therefore primarily limit its use to deter constitutional violations in the gathering of evidence. The VCCR notification provision has little connection to evidence or statements obtained by police. Foreign nationals in U.S. Territory have all due process protections, including Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights, which adequately protect the same interests as the VCCR provision. A defendant whose consular notification rights under the VCCR were violated may raise a broader challenge to the voluntariness of any statements obtained.
548 U.S. 331, 126 S. Ct. 2669 (2006)