We all know about the rights of the accused in criminal cases. So much so that it’s a wonder the high court continues to require the reading of Miranda prior to questioning a criminal suspect. Nearly all of us, police background notwithstanding, can recite the Miranda warning verbatim.

Tune in to any cop show on TV and the portrayers of the police will be reading some low-life pond scum his rights under the Miranda warning. I have two thoughts on this matter: The public at large misunderstands the purpose and application of the warning and a misunderstanding of when the warning is actually required.

I’m here to help. The Miranda warning has its roots way back in March 1963. At that time, an 18-year-old Phoenix woman reported to police that she had been driven into the desert and sexually assaulted. The victim was given a polygraph examination, which resulted in an inconclusive finding. As a footnote, victims of sexual assault cannot be asked to submit to a polygraph examination in the great state of Texas.

Long story short, the victim was also unable to pick Ernesto Miranda out of a lineup as her attacker but he was nonetheless taken into custody and interrogated. Police left the interrogation room with a confession, which Miranda later recanted, saying he was unaware he was not required to say anything at all during the police interrogation. The confession was brief and differed materially in respect to the victim’s account of the crime. A red flag? Oh, yes.

Miranda’s defense attorney called no witnesses during the ensuing trial and Miranda was convicted. The scope of Miranda’s defense can be visualized by knowing the attorney was paid $100 for his efforts.

The American Civil Liberties Union took up Miranda’s appeal, claiming his confession was coerced and false. Although the Supreme Court overturned Miranda’s conviction, he was retried and convicted again in 1966. Miranda remained in prison until 1972. In 1976, Miranda was stabbed to death in the men’s room of a bar following a poker game.

As a result of the Miranda case, each and every person must be advised of his or her rights upon arrest.

Here’s the second part of the warning conundrum: Simply because police ask questions of witnesses at the scene of a crime does not mean the Miranda warning must be given prior to any questioning. For the Miranda warning to be required, the person must be in custody and the questions must be guilt seeking. Asking your name does not require Miranda. Now you know the rest of the story.

What about the rights of the victims? In the State of Texas, the attorney general’s office administers the Crime Victim Services Division.

This agency is equipped to assist crime victims in providing outreach programs, which include medical and psychological programs aimed at healing and returning the victim to a state of normalcy. Each police department is required to assign a crime victim coordinator to assist victims in that jurisdiction. This is usually assigned as an additional duty in smaller departments.

Compensation for victim’s medical expenses and loss of property must be funded. Where better to accumulate the funding than from the convicted criminals themselves?

In Texas, about 95 percent of funding comes from court costs, fees and fines assessed against the convicted offenders. Collecting the fines, fees and court costs is another story, but the state’s Office of Court Administration assists municipalities in that effort.

Assaults

The batterers have not left the jurisdiction of Copperas Cove. Nine crimes of assault were reported this week, seven of which were family violence related. One was the despicable crime of continuous sexual assault of a child.

  • An assault with bodily injury/family violence was reported March 15 in the 2300 block of Pose Oak Avenue.
  • An assault with bodily injury/family violence was reported March 15 in the 2900 block of Starlight Drive.
  • As assault with bodily injury/family violence was reported March 18 in the 1600 block of North Main Street.
  • An assault by contact/family violence was reported March 18 in the 300 block of Erby Avenue.
  • An assault with bodily injury/family violence was reported March 20 in the 800 block of Karen Street.
  • An assault with bodily injury was reported March 18 in the 1100 block of Dixon Circle.
  • The continuous sexual assault of a child was reported March 20. Location is omitted to protect the identity of the victim.
  • An assault with bodily injury/family violence was reported March 20 in the 800 block of Industrial Avenue.
  • An assault by contact/family violence was reported March 20 in the 300 block of Judy Lane.

Theft/burglary

Twenty-eight thefts/burglaries were reported to police this week. Someone must have turned over a slew of rocks to allow so many thieves to run loose in Cove in such a short time.

Based on the ever-increasing number of crimes in this category, it’s obvious we cannot prevent this thieving group from living in or coming to Copperas Cove, so we must concentrate on prevention, detection, apprehension, conviction and incarceration. The police and courts will do their part in the last four. We must work on prevention.

If you leave any items of value in your vehicle or yard while unattended, expect to lose those things. Practice the simple philosophy of take-it, hide-it, lock-it. Sorry, but I have little sympathy for careless victims. We live in an age of lower morals, more greed and an expectation of entitlement. What’s yours may soon belong to another. Tools seem to have been the property of choice this week.

  • The theft of a vehicle and evading arrest was reported March 13.
  • The theft of speakers and cellphones were reported March 14 in the 500 block of North First Street.
  • An attempted burglary of a vehicle was reported March 14 in the 600 block of Cedar Drive.
  • A cellphone was reported stolen March 15 in the 300 block of Joe’s Road.
  • Cellphone theft was reported March 15 in the 1200 block of West Avenue B.
  • A Kayak was reported stolen March 16 in the 2700 block of Phyllis Drive.
  • The theft of currency was reported March 16 in the 700 block of West Avenue D.
  • A theft of currency was reported March 16 in the 600 block of West Avenue D.
  • Currency was reported stolen March 16 in the 600 block of Bermuda Street.
  • The theft of electronics was reported March 16 in the 400 block of West Business U.S. Highway 190.
  • Credit card abuse and the theft of a wallet were reported March 16 in the 2000 block of West Avenue B.
  • The theft of musical instruments was reported March 6 in the 1800 block of Miles Street.
  • A theft off currency was reported March 17 in the 400 block of west Avenue D.
  • A theft of service was reported March 17 in the 2100 block of Brantley Avenue.
  • The theft of household items, electronics and a lawnmower was reported March 17 in the 1000 block of South 21st Street.
  • A burglary of a vehicle together with the theft of carpet cleaning equipment was reported March 18 in the 2500 block of East Business U.S. Highway 190. Items stolen and damage was valued at $3,050.
  • The theft of $600 was reported March 18 in the 700 block of North 23rd Street.
  • A burglary of a habitation was reported March 18 in the 1300 block of Bluffdale Street. A television valued at $200 was reported stolen.
  • The theft of a firearm valued at $500 was reported March 18 in the 1200 block of South Third Street. The theft of a firearm is a felony regardless of value.
  • A firearm, miscellaneous weapons and a gaming console were reported stolen March 20 in the 400 block of West Washington Avenue.
  • A burglary of a building was reported March 18 in the 2200 block of Keenan Avenue. Tools were reported stolen.
  • A burglary of a habitation was reported March 18 in the 800 block of South 23rd Street. Damage to a door and stolen electronics valued at $1,589 were reported.
  • A burglary of a habitation was reported March 19 in the 3100 block of Yaupon Road. A television valued at $250 was reported stolen.
  • A theft of tools from a vehicle was reported March 20 in the 1600 block of Robertson Avenue. Tools valued at $1,750 were reported stolen.
  • Tools valued at $3,120 were reported stolen from a vehicle March 20 in the 1600 block of Robertson Avenue.
  • Tools valued at $2,100 were reported stolen from a vehicle March 20 in the 3500 block of Jacob Street.
  • Tools valued at $3,800 were reported stolen from a vehicle March 20 in the 3400 block of Settlement Road.
  • Golf equipment was reported stolen March 20 in the 3500 block of Rock Island Road.
  • Burglary of a vehicle, criminal mischief and trespass on school grounds were reported March 17.

Other crimes

  • Criminal mischief was reported March 14 in the 900 block of 17th Street.
  • Criminal mischief was reported March 15 in the 1900 bock of Henry Street.
  • Criminal mischief and discharge of a firearm in city limits were reported March 16 in the 700 block of South 11th Street.
  • Criminal mischief was reported March 16 in the 1500 block of Lubbock Drive.
  • Criminal mischief was reported March 17 in the 2200 block of Scott Drive.
  • Criminal mischief was reported March 17 in the 1200 block of Katelyn Circle.
  • Criminal mischief was reported March 17 in the 1000 block of Stewart Street.
  • Fraudulent use/possession of identifying information was reported March 14 in the 500 block of West Avenue A.
  • Fraudulent use/possession of identifying information was reported March 16 in the 200 block of Rose Avenue.
  • Fraudulent use/possession of identifying information was reported March 17 in the 500 block of northern Dove Lane.
  • Fraudulent use/possession of identifying information was reported March 18 in the 300 block of Manning Drive.
  • Breach of computer security was reported March 15 in the 2100 block of Brantley Avenue.
  • Forgery of a financial instrument was reported March 16 in the 700 block of West Avenue D.
  • Possession of drug paraphernalia was reported March 20 in the 1400 block of South 23rd Street.
  • Evading arrest/detention was reported March 13. An arrest was made.

John Vander Werff is a 30-year veteran of law enforcement and a Copperas Cove resident.​

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