Miranda Warnings

A typical Miranda Warning:

  • You have the right to remain silent
  • Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.
  • You have a right to talk to a lawyer and have him present with you while you are being questioned.
  • If you cannot afford to hire a lawyer, one will be appointed to represent you before any questioning, if you wish one.
  • If you decide to make a statement, you may stop at any time.
    Waiver:
  • Do you understand each of these rights I have explained to you?
  • Having these rights in mind, do you wish to talk to us now?

Miranda Custody-The period of time from which the defendant was read the Miranda Warning and the interrogation begins to the time the police dominated atmosphere ends and the person is released back to normal life.

Click on the case titles to link to the full case decision.

Miranda v. Arizona 384 U.S. 436 (1966)-The Miranda case is a very important case to law enforcement. The United States Supreme Court established an irrebuttable presumption that a statement is involuntary if made during a custodial interrogation without the "Miranda Warnings" given. The warning requirements only apply when a person is in custody and interrogated. In this case, "custody" is an arrest or when freedom  is significantly deprived to be equivalent to an arrest. "Interrogation" is the use of words or actions to elicit an incriminating response from an average person.

Doyle v. Ohio, 426 US 610 (1976)-If a defendant is given his Miranda rights and elects to remain silent, his silence cannot be used in court to impeach him.

Dunaway v. New York, 442 US 200 (1979)-The involuntary seizing of a person from his home without probable cause and compelled him to go to the station for interrogation violated the person's Fourth Amendment rights. The Miranda rights advisory does not overcome the taint of the illegal arrest. Factors that should be considered in determining whether a confession was obtained by exploiting an illegal arrest are:

North Carolina v. Butler, 441 U. S. 369 (1979)-Held: An explicit statement of waiver is not invariably necessary to support a finding that the defendant waived the right to counsel guaranteed by the Miranda case. It can be inferred.

Edwards v. Arizona, 451 U.S. 477 (1981)-The defendant was read his rights on one day and he invoked his rights to counsel. The defendant was placed in jail and had not seen his counsel. The officers on the next day re-read the Miranda warning to the defendant and questioned him. He did not ask for counsel the second time. He incriminated himself. The Court ruled that the evidence was inadmissible. For further see Maryland v. Shatzer (2010).

California v. Beheler, 463 U.S. 1121 (1983)-Absent arrest or "in custody" type treatment, "Miranda warnings are not required simply because the questioning takes place in a coercive environment in the station house or because the questioned person is one whom the police suspect."

New York v. Quarles, 467 US 649 (1984)-Public safety exception to the Miranda ruling. Quarles raped a woman at gun point. He was located in a supermarket. The police chased, caught and arrested him in the store. The officer found he was wearing an empty gun holster. The officer asked Quarles where the gun was without reading him his rights. The USSC ruled that the police had an immediate public safety reason to recover the gun.

Oregon v. Elstad, 470 US 298 (1985)-"Absent deliberate coercion or improper tactics in obtaining an unwarned statement, a careful and thorough administration of Miranda warnings cures the condition that rendered the unwarned statement inadmissible". For further information see the related case of Missouri v. Seibert.

Moran v. Burbine, 475 U. S. 412 (1986)-The respondent was arrested for breaking and entering. Evidence was discovered that he might have committed a murder. He was read his Miranda rights and questioned. At the time, the respondent's sister called the public defender's office and obtained counsel for him. The attorney called the police department and advised that she would act as counsel for the respondent if he is questioned. The police never told the respondent about the attorney. They also lied to the attorney and said the respondent would not be questioned until the next day.

Held: The police's failure to inform respondent of the attorney's telephone call did not deprive him of information essential to his ability to knowingly waive his Fifth Amendment rights to remain silent and to the presence of counsel. Events occurring outside of a suspect's presence and entirely unknown to him can have no bearing on the capacity to comprehend and knowingly relinquish a constitutional right. Once it is demonstrated that a suspect's decision not to rely on his rights was un coerced, that he at all times knew he could stand mute and request a lawyer, and that he was aware of the State's intention to use his statements to secure a conviction, the analysis is complete and the waiver is valid as a matter of law. The level of the police's culpability -- whether intentional or inadvertent -- in failing to inform respondent of the telephone call has no bearing on the validity of the waivers.

Illinois v. Perkins, 496 US 292 (1990)-The Miranda Warnings are not required when an incarcerated person speaks freely to another inmate who is actually an undercover officer.

Davis v. United States, 512 US 452 (1994)-A suspect must make an unequivocal request for a lawyer in order to effectively invoke his right to counsel.

Thompson v. Keohane, (94-6615), 516 U.S. 99 (1996)-There are two inquiries that are essential in determining if a person is “in custody” in regards to the Miranda ruling. If either of these indicate the person is “in custody”, the officer must read the Miranda rights-

    • The court must determine the circumstances surrounding the interrogation (i.e. in custody type treatment, handcuffing, locking in a cell, and etc.). 
    • The court must determine if a reasonable person would have felt not at liberty to end the interrogation and leave. 

US v. Lackey, 334 F.3d 1224 (10th Cir., 2003)-Police can ask an arrested person if he is in possession of weapons without giving the Miranda warnings. This is a "public safety" exception.

Fellers v. US, 540 U.S. 519 (2004)-After Fellers was indicted by a grand jury; he was questioned without being Mirandized during his arrest or having counsel (See Brewer V. Williams). He made incriminating statements. The officers took him to the jail and read him his rights. He again made the incriminating statements. The Court held that the statements are excluded. The statements after Miranda were fruits of the initial questioning.

Missouri v. Seibert, 000 US 02-1731 (2004)-This case further clarified the ruling on Elstad. In the Seibert case, the officer deliberately withheld the Miranda warnings. He then systematically interrogated the suspect at the station and obtained a confession to Murder I. The suspect was then read the Miranda warnings and questioned again. The suspect was confronted with the pre-warning statements. The suspect confessed again. The officer did not advise the suspect that her earlier statements could not be used against her. The confession was inadmissible. The court said that Elstad applies when inadvertent pre-warning statements are made during brief questioning in the field. It does not apply to deliberate and systematic interrogations done in a manner to circumvent the purpose of the Miranda warnings.

Yarborough v. Alvarado, (02-1684) 541 U.S. 652 (2004)-Alvarado, a 17yr old, was brought to the station by his parents to be questioned about a robbery and murder. His parents remained in the waiting room while Alvarado was questioned for 2 hours without the Miranda warning. He confessed to being involved in the incident. He was allowed to leave. The US Supreme Court ruled that the trial court properly applied the Thompson v. Keohane standard in determining that Alvarado was not in custody.  

Maryland v. Shatzer, 08-680 (2010)-After a defendant invokes his right to counsel under Miranda, the Court concludes that a police officer must wait a period of time after the defendant is released from Miranda custody before he could be questioned again. The Court concluded that the appropriate period is 14 days, which provides ample time for the suspect to get re acclimated to his normal life, consult with friends and counsel, and shake off any residual coercive effects of prior custody.

Berghuis v. Thompkins, ___ US No. 08-1470 (2010)-The silence of a suspect during questioning is not an invocation of his right to remain silent. He must make an unambiguous assertion of his rights under Miranda. A signed waiver of the Miranda rights is also not required. The actions and words of the suspect are sufficient to infer a waiver.

Florida v. Powell, ___ US No. 08-1175 (2010)-The Tampa police read the defendant the following Miranda warning, “You have the right to talk to a lawyer before answering any of our questions” and “you have the right to use any of these rights at any time you want during this interview.” The lower courts ruled that the warning was misleading because it suggested that he could consult with an attorney only before the police started to question him and did not convey his entitlement to counsel’s presence throughout the interrogation. The US Supreme Court reversed. The advisory given by Tampa PD satisfied the requirements in the Miranda case.

Bobby v. Dixon, 10-1540 (2011)-A person cannot invoke his Miranda Rights anticipatorily in other situations other than a custodial interrogation. In this case, the police met with Dixon at the police station when he came in to get a car out of impound. Dixon was not under arrest, but was contacted by a detective. The detective read him his Miranda Rights and asked him about the disappearance of a person named Hammer. Dixon refused to answer questions without his lawyer present. He left the station. A few days later, he was arrested for forgery. He was read his rights and questioned again. He confessed to murdering Hammer. The 6th Circuit Court tossed the confession. It held that because Dixon invoked his rights to have a lawyer present the day he got the vehicle out of impound, the interrogation 5 days later violated his rights. The Supreme Court reversed. It held that a person can only invoke his rights when in custody. The first time Dixon was questioned, he was not in custody. Therefore, the second questioning under Miranda was not affected. This case also means that a person who is about to be or just been arrested cannot just blurt out that he will not talk to the police without his attorney. The person has to be taken into custody and the police have to read the Miranda Rights before the person can invoke his rights.

 J. D. B. v. North Carolina, 564 US __ No. 09–11121 (2011)-Age is now a factor to consider in determining whether a juvenile is “in custody” when interrogated. The officer must now consider if the age of the juvenile will contribute to the significant deprivation of freedom to be equivalent to an arrest. In this case a 13yrs old juvenile was in the principal’s office at school when questioned about a larceny by police without being Mirandized. The juvenile confessed. The juvenile was allowed to leave and charges were later filed by the officer. The lower courts found that the child was not “in custody” and that age is not a factor in determining whether the juvenile was in custody. The Supreme Court did not exclude the juvenile’s confession, but remanded the case back to the lower court and instructed it to consider age as a factor in determining whether an “in custody” situation existed.  

Howes v. Fields, _____ US 10-680 (2012)-Fields was a prisoner who was questioned by deputies about possible criminal activity he may have been involved in prior to imprisonment. He was not read his Miranda rights. Fields was not restrained. He was told he could return to his cell whenever he wanted. The door to the room he was questioned in was sometimes opened and sometimes closed during the questioning. The Supreme Court held that, "The Sixth Circuit’s categorical rule—that imprisonment, questioning in private, and questioning about events in the outside world create a custodial situation for Miranda purposes is simply wrong." The Court determined that there are at least the following 3 grounds to support this conclusion: 1) The questioning of a person already in prison lacks the shock from being arrested. 2) A prisoner knows that speaking to law enforcement is not going to lead to his prompt release. 3) A prisoner knows that the questioners can't reduce his prison time. Therefore, being in prison by itself is not enough to constitute Miranda custody.

US v. Ferguson, 11-3806-cr (2nd Cir. 2012)-Ferguson was involved in an incident where a gun was involved. He was later arrested and questioned. The officer was concerned for the public’s safety in locating the gun. He questioned the defendant over an hour after his arrest without giving the defendant his Miranda warnings. The defendant took the officer to the gun location. The defense attorney tried to get the statement and gun excluded claiming the time delay defeated the public safety claim. The court held that the gun still posed an immediate threat to the public and the exception to the Miranda requirement still applied.

US v. Infante, 11-2156 (1st Cir.2012)-Officers are not obligated under the Constitution to respect a person’s attempts to invoke his rights under Miranda if the person is in a non-custodial interrogation.

US v. Williams, 13-2390 (8th Cir 2014)-Williams arrived home during the execution of a search warrant for child porn. A federal agent told him he was not under arrest and asked if he would answer some questions. Williams was allowed to walk to the restroom and get a drink of water. He was not restrained. When agents were done with the search warrant, Williams was not immediately arrested. The lower court said that Williams should have been read the Miranda warning. The 8th Circuit Court reversed and held that Williams was not in custody for Miranda purposes.