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Your right to a Walker Hearing in Michigan

We recently discussed how to protect your right to remain silent if cops try to talk to you without an attorney present. But suppose you didn't realize what was happening until it was too late. Or maybe you felt physically threatened or emotionally manipulated into saying what a cop wanted to hear. Now you're worried that the cop tricked you into saying something incriminating.

Your statement could spell disaster in court. Or could it? Thankfully, in Michigan you have the right to a "Walker hearing" (named after a 1965 case, People v Walker) to determine whether your statement was given voluntarily and knowingly in the first place. If it wasn't, it can't be used as evidence in a trial.

Here's a recent example: Jason Dalton, the Uber driver charged with a mass shooting in Kalamazoo County in February, made statements to police detectives after the shooting, after being questioned until 3 or 4 a.m. His attorney is now requesting a Walker hearing, arguing that Dalton's statements weren't "voluntary, knowing and intelligently given," according to MLive.com. If the hearing determines his statements weren't voluntarily and knowingly made, they could be suppressed.

A Walker hearing takes place before a trial and allows the judge to determine whether a statement was voluntarily made - and thus can be used as evidence in the trial - or not. The jury can only hear your statement if a Walker hearing determines you made it voluntarily and knowingly.

When cops try to talk to you without an attorney present, silence is, of course, your first line of defense. But if you're worried you may have been bullied or tricked into saying something you wouldn't have otherwise, remember that your attorney can still request a Walker hearing. In any case, contact an attorney right away to make sure all of your rights are protected.

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