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Name: People v. Ramos
Case #: C065059
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 05/10/2013

Although evidence of defendant’s invocation of her right to remain silent may have been inadmissible, the Fifth Amendment issue was forfeited because it was not specifically raised at trial. Appellant and her codefendants were convicted of multiple counts of assault with a deadly weapon and other assaultive conduct after they physically assaulted members of another group getting off a “party” bus. In part, appellant claimed on appeal the trial court erred in admitting evidence she refused to talk to police regarding the assaults. Held: Affirmed. The trial court overruled appellant’s Evidence Code section 352 objection to a detective’s testimony regarding appellant’s lack of cooperation, based on defense counsel’s offer of proof; there was no section 402 hearing. A detective then testified appellant was uncooperative, refusing to give a statement, when he contacted her while investigating the assaults. No objection was made to the officer’s testimony that appellant refused to give a statement, which was an express invocation of her right to remain silent. Although substantive use of a defendant’s refusal to give police a statement may violate the Fifth Amendment, appellant did not object to the evidence based on her invocation of rights; she objected on relevance and Evidence Code section 352 grounds. Her trial attorney’s generic reference to the Fifth Amendment was insufficient to preserve the argument; a defendant must state the specific grounds of her objection to the admissibility of her statements. Further, any error in admitting the officer’s testimony of appellant’s failure to keep appointments to talk to police was harmless, as the evidence of guilt was overwhelming and the trial court instructed the jury that appellant’s prearrest conduct could not be considered as consciousness of guilt.

Any error in admission of evidence of the arrest warrant was harmless. The prosecution informed the court it would ask the detective whether and when he obtained an arrest warrant, to show how long Ramos failed to cooperate with authorities. The defense objected this evidence was irrelevant. “In essence, the prosecutor sought to establish the length of [Ramos’s] precustody silence.” This was tied to the evidence of appellant’s refusal to give a statement; any error in admitting the evidence was harmless.