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JD, Criminal Justice Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 1335
Experience:  Over 11 years of practice in litigation including 10 years as a state prosecutor
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Do the miranda rights exist prior to a police interrogation

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A friend's 18 yr old son may have been involved with a prank in his neighborhood. The police were called and interrogated the 18 yr old boy who lives at home without first advising the boy of his miranda rights. They used scare tactics indicating that he would be charged with a felony if he did not cooperate and they further coerced him to confess to even more severe pranks - misdemeanor level. He ended up confessing and signing his written confession.

Shouldn't this be ruled inadmissable via coercion.

It sounds like a Miranda violation, however there are several factors that courts consider when making this determination. Basically, anyone who is subjected to a custodial interrogation must be advised of their Miranda rights in order for any subsequent statement to be considered voluntary. Any violation of this rule renders the statement involuntarily provided and therefore inadmissible. To determine if Miranda applies you must look at the totality of the circumstances surrounding the police questioning... not all police questioning is considered custodial.


Common sense factors are used to determine whether or not a reasonable person would feel free to leave during the police questioning. Casual questions on the side of the road would likely be non custodial. Questions where a defendant drives himself to the station and comes in... the doors are unlocked and he is advised that he is free to leave at any time can also be considered non custodial, however as the police presence and restriction of movement increase the voluntariness decreases. Obviously if someone is not free to leave, surrounded by police and being threatened with serious felony charges if they do not talk... they are most likely in a custodial interrogation and subject to the Miranda warnings.


The state has the burden of showing that any statement given in this situation was freely, knowingly and voluntarily given... in other words they must prove they advised him of his Miranda warnings and that he waived them. Failure to meet this burden should (upon motion from his attorney) render the confessions inadmissible.


Please reply if I can help further.




Customer: replied 8 years ago.
As I understand the situation, there was a detective (plain clothed) and a patrol officer (in full police gear). The boy was literally surrounded by both as the interrogation took place. The detective was very aggressive in his questioning - and countered the boy's answers with more aggressive tone and suggested higher level criminal action responses.

The boy was subsequently charged with a misdemeanor based upon the confession. The boy's name, address, and details from the "police complaint warrant" were in the regional paper the next day. Isn't this a little more than allowed in the freedom of info act?

The boy being outnumbered by law enforcement coupled with the aggressive style could be enough to trigger Miranda. Other factors would also be considered (environment, location, was he handcuffed, was he told he could leave, were others present, etc). I have seen cases around the country where unwarranted threats of prosecution could invalidate voluntariness of a statement (even without a Miranda violation) so both issues need to be evaluated. If the law enforcement statements were true then it would not likely trigger the second review.


Once a criminal warrant or indictment is served a court record is formed. That court record and any proceeding on that court record is generally open to the public. While there are ethical restrictions on the police and particularly the prosecutors in their efforts toward pretrial publicity, virtually any inquisitive reporter can gather mounds of information and print it freely.


Please reply if I can help further.



Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Could you expound on your last sentence in the main paragraph? I am not sure I understand what you were saying here. thx

"If the law enforcement statements were true then it would not likely trigger the second review"

I'm referring to the threat of felony prosecution.


Courts have generally held that if that threat is really more of an explanation of consequences and not a fictional scare tactic then it will often not rise to the level of coercion. However, if the police are simply using the suspect's ignorance of the law against him as a tactic to elicit a confession then it can rise to the level of being coercive. Again, there are two inquiries here... first there is the Miranda violation and then second there is the issue of using these potential felony charges as a scare tactic.


Please reply if I can help further.



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