Federal Court Rules Miranda Rights Must Be Read In Correct Spanish

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A federal court overturned Monday the conviction of a Portland man, ruling that a Miranda warning is not valid if incorrectly translated into Spanish to a Spanish-speaking suspect.

Jeronimo Botello-Rosales, who was convicted in 2010 on charges of conspiracy to manufacture marijuana and possession of a firearm by a person unlawfully in the United States, had his conviction overturned by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. He had entered a conditional guilty plea pending the result of the appeal.

Expert witnesses testified that the detective who gave Botello-Rosales his warning used the Spanish word “libre” to mean “without cost,” when the correct translation means “being available or at liberty to do something.” The court ruled that “this warning failed to reasonably convey the government’s obligation to appoint an attorney for an indigent suspect who wishes to consult one.”

Joseph Diebold is an intern with ThinkProgress.