Miranda Warnings – Failure to Advise

Aug 26, 2022

Defendant Hudson arrested for DUI moved the Court to Suppress statements she made while handcuffed in the rear seat of a police cruiser. Prior to questions police failed to advise the defendant of the Miranda warnings as spelled out in the U.S. Supreme Court’s opinion in Miranda v Arizona. The Trial court denied the Motion. The court of appeal reversed finding the Trial court erred in denying defendant’s motion to suppress statements she made while handcuffed in the back of a patrol car prior to receiving Miranda warnings because the defendant was in custody for Miranda purposes where defendant was never told she could leave and, in fact, was not free to leave. The officers engaged in custodial interrogation where officers asked questions that a reasonable person would conclude were intended to lead to an incriminating response. Because the defendant provided incriminating statements in response to custodial interrogation, motion to suppress should have been granted. See Hudson opinion below.

Miranda v. Arizona: Miranda was arrested at his home and taken in custody to a police station where he was identified by the complaining witness. He was then interrogated by two police officers for two hours, which resulted in a signed, written confession. At trial, the oral and written confessions were presented to the jury. Miranda was found guilty of kidnapping and rape and was sentenced to 20-30 years imprisonment on each count. On appeal, the Supreme Court of Arizona held that Miranda’s constitutional rights were not violated in obtaining the confession.

The U.S. Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Arizona Supreme Court, holding that “there can be no doubt that the Fifth Amendment privilege is available outside of criminal court proceedings and serves to protect persons in all settings in which their freedom of action is curtailed in any significant way from being compelled to incriminate themselves.” As such, “the prosecution may not use statements, whether exculpatory or inculpatory, stemming from custodial interrogation of the defendant unless it demonstrates the use of procedural safeguards effective to secure the privilege against self-incrimination. By custodial interrogation, we mean questioning initiated by law enforcement officers after a person has been taken into custody or otherwise deprived of his freedom of action in any significant way.”

The Court further held that “without proper safeguards the process of in-custody interrogation of persons suspected or accused of crime contains inherently compelling pressures which work to undermine the individual’s will to resist and to compel him to speak where he would otherwise do so freely.” Therefore, a defendant “must be warned prior to any questioning that he has the right to remain silent, that anything he says can be used against him in a court of law, that he has the right to the presence of an attorney, and that if he cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for him prior to any questioning if he so desires.”

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