What Is Required for Police Custody so That Miranda Applies?
The answer depends upon whether police were involved, whether there was a “prolonged detention” of the client and the adequacy of the “reading of the rights,” if for example police gave some warning to the suspect. Most importantly, the client or potential client must have then said something which conclusively establishes his or her guilt, i.e. a full confession, or an admission to some fact that, combined with other evidence, supports a conviction.
This article will address one of these three requirements: that the suspect be in some form of a prolonged detention, often referred to as being in custody. This generally means being formally arrested or being restrained in one’s freedom of movement to the degree associated with a formal arrest. Thompson v. Keohane (1995) 516 U.S. 99, 112, 116 S. Ct. 457; California v. Beheler (1983) 463 U.S. 1121, 1125, 103 S. Ct. 3517.
The test to decide if the restraint is sufficient to trigger the Miranda admonition is whether the totality of the circumstances would cause “a reasonable person to believe he was in custody or otherwise deprived of his freedom.” People v. Chutan (1999) 72 Cal.App.4th 1276, 1283. The “ultimate inquiry” is whether “a reasonable person would have felt he or she was not at liberty to terminate the interrogation and leave.” People v. Ochoa (1998) 19 Cal.4th 353, 401, quoting Thompson, supra.
In a Nutshell: Police must read a suspect the Miranda warning if a reasonable person in the suspect’s position with the police would have felt he or she was not at liberty to terminate the interrogation and leave.
- The site or location of the interrogation;
- The objective indicia of arrest, i.e. is one handcuffed or locked in a cell;
- Absent formal arrest, the length of the detention;
- The ratio of officers to suspect; and
- The demeanor of the officer, including the nature of the questioning.
- The language used to summon the suspect (i.e. cussing);
- The extent to which the subject is confronted with evidence of guilt;
- The physical surroundings of the interrogation;
- The duration of the detention; and
- The degree of pressure applied to detain the suspect.
The best thing someone can do to try to suppress a statement made without Miranda warnings is to read ten or more cases on when a court does and does not suppress such statements, as there are dozens, if not hundreds of cases on this issue. The attorney should try to analogize the pending case to past cases where a judge found the circumstances sufficient to require such a warning and argue, consequently, that in the pending case such a warning was improperly neglected or omitted.
For more information about Fifth and Sixth Amendment issues, please click on the following articles: