Posted on July 17, 2013

9th Circuit Says Miranda Warning Must Be Given in Correct Spanish

Maura Dolan, Los Angeles Times, July 15, 2013

A Miranda warning given in both English and Spanish to a Spanish-speaking suspect is insufficient if a police officer’s translation fails to convey the true meaning of the arrested person’s rights, a federal appeals court decided Monday.

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a drug and gun conviction on the grounds that a district judge erred by admitting comments made by the suspect after he was given the Miranda warning in English and poor Spanish.


The detective used the Spanish word “libre” to mean without cost.  But expert witnesses said that was an incorrect translation. “Libre” instead means free as “in being available or at liberty to do something,” the court said.

The ruling overturned the conviction of Jeronimo Botello-Rosales for  conspiracy to manufacture marijuana and possession of a firearm by a person unlawfully in the United States.  Botello-Rosales had entered a conditional guilty plea but reserved the right to withdraw it pending the results of his appeal.