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United States v. Nichols

438 F.3d 437 (2006)

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United States v. Nichols

United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

438 F.3d 437 (2006)

Facts

After James David Nichols (defendant) robbed a bank, Nichols surrendered to police. Nichols repeatedly told police that he wanted an attorney, and police assured Nichols that he would receive one. Without providing an attorney, police took Nichols to an interview room, where Nichols signed a form waiving his rights and confessed to robbing the bank and carrying a pistol in his pocket during the robbery. During Nichols’s confession, Nichols was not physically restrained, the interview room door was open, Nichols was allowed to smoke, and there was no indication that Nichols was promised anything in exchange for his cooperation. Nichols was charged with bank robbery, armed bank robbery, and a firearm offense. The district court suppressed Nichols’s confession, finding that the interrogation violated Nichols’s Miranda rights after police initiated further questioning without providing Nichols with an attorney. Because the only evidence of Nichols’s gun possession derived from the confession, the government (plaintiff) dismissed the armed-bank-robbery and firearm charges, and Nichols pleaded guilty to the bank-robbery charge. Over the government’s objection, the district court declined to apply a firearm enhancement to Nichols’s sentence. The government appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Wilkins, C.J.)

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