After a series of burglaries, Scott County law enforcement officers received a tip that stolen goods were being sold from a car of given description and tag number. Larry Lawrence was driving the car when it was located and stopped by a deputy sheriff in the late afternoon of December 30, 1998.
The car contained a good bit of jewelry in plain view, and a computer check revealed that Lawrence was a convicted felon driving with an expired license. A consensual search yielded a necklace which would later be used to link Lawrence to the burglary in question. Officers also found a shotgun in the trunk, at which point Lawrence was taken into custody.
Lawrence was read his Miranda rights from a form. The form contained a signature line for waiver of rights to an attorney. Lawrence, a thirty-year-old high school graduate with experience in the criminal justice system, signed the form. He spent the night of his arrest in the Smith County jail and was moved to the Scott County jail the next morning, December 31.
On that New Year’s eve, a Thursday, the primary arresting officer presented an affidavit of probable cause to a justice court judge, without Lawrence being present for an initial appearance. The judge found the affidavit sufficient to issue an arrest warrant, and the warrant was served on Lawrence in jail that same day.
On Tuesday, January 5, 1999, six days after his arrest, officers again read Lawrence his Miranda rights, and he acknowledged those rights and waived his rights to an attorney by signing another copy of the form previously mentioned. Officers testified that Lawrence agreed to go for a ride in order to locate and identify the house he had helped burglarize. The subject house was so identified.
With the confession in hand, the officers took Lawrence before the judge for his initial appearance. Lawrence signed a certificate listing the matters pertinent to an initial appearance, and his bond was set. At some point, Lawrence also signed the certificate on a hand drawn signature line, under the handwritten words “will represent himself.”
Lawrence was convicted of burglary and sentenced to 25 years. On appeal, he argued he did not get an initial appearance within 48 hours as required by rule 6.03. MSC affirmed.
Without question, URCCC 6.03 was violated, and the State unhesitatingly concedes this. More specifically, the State concedes that URCCC 6.03 was apparently violated when Lawrence was not taken for his initial appearance without unnecessary delay and within 48 hours of arrest and that the police officer’s securing of a warrant from a justice court judge the day after Lawrence’s warrantless arrest satisfied the Fourth Amendment, not URCCC 6.03.
However, as pointed out by the State, a failure to comply with URCCC 6.03 does not necessarily mean that there has been a Fourth Amendment violation.
States certainly have the right to enact rules and procedures to afford more rights than constitutionally required to those citizens who are criminally charged. However, when, as here, such a rule is enacted, and then violated, that rule violation does not necessarily rise to the level of a constitutional violation.
In this case, a probable cause determination was made on Lawrence, well within the required 48-hour period, when he was served with an arrest warrant on the day after his arrest. There was no violation of Lawrence’s Fourth Amendment rights, although URCCC 6.03 was violated.
Through Rule 6.03, Mississippi has provided a procedure for a fair and reliable determination of probable cause by a judicial officer promptly after arrest. If the procedure of Rule 6.03 is followed, the Fourth Amendment rights of the accused are protected; however, the converse does not necessarily follow; failure to follow the exact procedure of Rule 6.03 does not necessarily result in a Fourth Amendment violation.
There is now a Mississippi Rules of Criminal Procedure (MRCP) that has replaced the Uniform Rules of Circuit and County Court. Sections 5.1 and 5.2 of MRCP provide the rules on getting a defendant to an initial appearance. Like 6.03, a violation of 5.1 or 5.2 will not automatically render a confession inadmissible. You can see the MRCP here.