Tsarnaev Legal Issues: No Miranda or Military Trial, Death Penalty Possible


With Dzhokhar Tsarnaev taken alive, the focus turns to how the Obama administration is going to seek to bring the Boston Marathon bombing suspect to justice, reports Politico. Lawyers have already the potentially critical decision not to read him Miranda rights under a “public safety exception” to the rule. This means that FBI investigators may have a shot at trying to question him about other potential plots he may be aware of and whether anyone other than his deceased brother was involved in last Monday's bombing or Thursday night's crime spree. (The hospitalized Tsarnaev reportedly has answered questions in writing).

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin saw no legal basis for holding the suspect as an enemy combatant., with no evidence he is part of an organized group. Prosecutors may seek the death penalty, but Tsarnaev's lawyers could argue that his mental capacity was impaired, that he may have been under the “duress” of his elder brother or that his participation in the offense was “relatively minor.” The prosecution might enter into a plea bargain for a life sentence in order to avoid the risks of a trial, particularly if an insanity defense seems plausible. Tsarnaev could make a court appearance as soon as today, or investigators could ask for a delay. He can’t be tried in a military commission because he is a U.S. citizen.

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