Florida Jail House Calls as Evidence
While in jail awaiting trial or release on bond, many inmates find the need to continuously telephone their family, their friends, and their lawyer from inside the jail. Inmates continuously telephone the outside world for many reasons: boredom, concern, and to “discuss their case.” One must always remember that every single call made from a correctional facility in Florida is recorded.
Recorded jailhouse telephone calls will be used by the prosecutor, as evidence against the accused, even when the accused is confiding in his or her mother for moral support. This issue was recently ferreted out by the appellate courts in Florida in Bass v. State.
Bass was being held pre-trial on the charges that he robbed and murdered a drug dealer in Bay County, Florida. Prior to Bass’ trail, the prosecutor filed a motion to permit the conversation between Bass and his mother, wherein he told her that he would take 15 years for what he has done, into evidence. The recorded telephone conversation, the prosecutor argued, is an admission of Bass’ guilt, as no innocent man would tell their mother they would sit in prison for 15 years if they did not in fact commit a crime.
Bass on the other hand, argued that he was only conveying a negotiated plea to his mother for her advice, which his attorney provided to him after receiving it from the eavesdropping prosecutor. Bass argued that under Florida law, statements concerning plea negotiations are inadmissible as the Florida Evidence Code prohibits the statements from coming into evidence as it provides: “Evidence of a plea of guilty, later withdrawn; a plea of nolo contendere; or an offer to plead guilty or nolo contendere to the crime charged or any other crime is inadmissible in any civil or criminal proceeding. Evidence of statements made in connection with any of the pleas or offers is inadmissible, except when such statements are offered in a prosecution under chapter 837 and see section 90.410 of the Florida Evidence Code.”
Moreover, Bass argued that under the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure 3.172 (i) the jailhouse recorded statements to his mother were not admissible because: “Except as otherwise provided in this rule, evidence of an offer or a plea of guilty or nolo contendere, later withdrawn, or of statements made in connection therewith, is not admissible in any civil or criminal proceeding against the person who made the plea or offer.”
The Appellate court found against Bass reasoning that his statements were not made “in connection with” any offer to plead guilty, as is the color of the rules in section 90.410 and 3.172 (i) as explained prior. The court went on to explain that it is apparent from the context of the recorded conversation that Appellant was relating to his mother the discussion he had had with his attorney, not statements conveyed to the State in furtherance of plea negotiations. At best, Appellant’s statements expressed what he had hoped to get from the State, but no counter-offer had been communicated at that point; nor, it appears, was one forthcoming. Bass on the very next day after the telephone conversation was recoded between him and his mother rejected the prosecutor’s plea offer and proceeded to trial. The court reasoned that for the purposes of determining whether Bass’ recorded statements to his mother were admissible, it cannot be said that Bass’ had a subjective expectation of engaging in plea negotiations when he was talking to his mother. Consequently, the statements are admissions and not covered under the umbrella “in connection with” a plea offer to be prohibited from dissemination to the jury. See Bass v. State, — So. 3rd — WL 4086496 (1st DCA 2014).
When you or a loved one is incarcerated every telephone call made from the jail is recorded and the information contained between the parties will be played for the judge, jury and whole world to hear. The temptation to speak over the telephone to a loved one about their case, while incarcerated, is strong. But as with Bass, everything you say will be used against you in a court of law!
If you or a loved one is being held on criminal charges contacted a criminal defense attorney who will visit your loved one in jail. The jailhouse conversation between a lawyer and his client is privileged and not admissible against the accused. West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney Andrew D. Stine has visited thousands of inmates while incarcerated, throughout Florida and the United States. If you are seeking legal help Hire Stine or Do the Time!