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Name: People v. Garcia
Case #: C054729
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 02/25/2009

The admission of evidence concerning defendant’s refusal to have his picture taken and continue interview was harmless error. During a voluntary police interview, Garcia stated that he needed an attorney. The officer stated that he could not ask more questions, but wanted to take a picture of Garcia. Garcia refused and got up and left the interview. The prosecution used this evidence as consciousness of guilt. In closing argument, he focused on the interview and argued that Garcia was suppressing evidence. On appeal, Garcia contended that the trial court erred in admitting into evidence his refusal to allow the picture and his leaving the interview room. The appellate court agreed that when Garcia ended the interview he was asserting the privilege against self-incrimination, and the refusal to allow the photograph was his assertion of his Fourth Amendment rights, which could not be used to show guilt. However, the court found the error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. There was overwhelming evidence of Garcia’s consciousness of guilt. The addition of a refusal to be photographed and to continue the interview added little to the prosecution case.