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Name: People v. Champion
Case #: E036279
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 12/19/2005

A prosecutor’s reference to a defendant’s refusal to speak with police did not violate due process. The defendant was accused of molesting two family members. During his police interrogation, he invoked his right to remain silent after receiving Miranda advisements. At trial, he testified that he had not been given the opportunity to tell his side of the story; when prompted by counsel he clarified that he meant that he had not been given an opportunity to tell his side of the story to his family. The prosecutor was permitted to impeach the defendant with the invocation of his right to remain silent, and the prosecutor argued to the jury that the defendant had, in fact, been given an opportunity to tell his story, but had opted to remain silent. The court of appeal found no error. The court distinguished cases in which courts have found due process violations based on a prosecutor’s use of an invocation of the right to remain silent as impeachment evidence, noting that in this case the prosecutor was specifically refuting the defendant’s claim that he had not been given a chance to tell his story. The court further found that any error would have been harmless under the circumstances.