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Name: U.S. v. Gomez
Case #: 12-50018
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 08/06/2013

Use of defendant’s postarrest statement to impeach his testimony that he was unaware there were drugs in his car was proper. Gomez was caught crossing the U.S./Mexico border with several kilos of methamphetamine in his car. On appeal of his conviction on federal drug charges he challenged the introduction in evidence of his post-Miranda statements to impeach his trial testimony. Held: Affirmed. “Due process requires that a defendant’s silence after receiving Miranda warnings” may not be used to impeach him at trial. (Doyle v. Ohio (1976) 426 U.S. 610.) This differs from use of a defendant’s voluntary statements obtained in violation of Miranda. While such statements may not be used in the prosecution’s case in chief, they are admissible to impeach a defendant’s testimony. After Gomez was informed of his Miranda rights he first told police he could not talk. Then, he explained he could not talk because his family would be killed. The trial court prohibited use of Gomez’s post-Miranda statement in the prosecution’s case in chief because he invoked his rights when he said he could not talk. However, the prosecution was allowed to use the statement in rebuttal to impeach Gomez’s testimony he was unaware there were drugs in the car. This ruling was proper because the statement was voluntary and inconsistent with Gomez’s claimed lacked of knowledge of the drugs.