CRS Annotated Constitution
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Miranda v. Arizona.—The Sixth Amendment holding of Escobedo was deemphasized and the Fifth Amendment self–incrimination rule made preeminent in Miranda v. Arizona,305 in which the Court summarized its holding as follows: “[T]he 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. As for the procedural safeguards to be employed, unless other fully effective means are devised to inform accused persons of their right of silence and to assure a continuous opportunity to exercise it, the following measures are required. Prior to any questioning, the person must be warned that he has a right to remain silent, that any statement he does make may be used as evidence against him, and that he has a right to the presence of an attorney, either retained or appointed. The defendant may waive effectuation of these rights, provided the waiver is made voluntarily, knowingly and intelligently. If, however, he indicates in any manner and at any stage of the process that he wishes to consult with an attorney before speaking there can be no questioning. Likewise, if the individual is alone and indicates in any manner that he does not wish to be interrogated, the police may not question him. The mere fact that he may have an[p.1331]swered some questions or volunteered some statements on his own does not deprive him of the right of refrain from answering any further inquiries until he has consulted with an attorney and thereafter consents to be questioned.”
The basis for the Court’s conclusions was the determination that police interrogation as conceived and practiced was inherently coercive and that this compulsion, though informal and legally sanctionless, was contrary to the protection assured by the self–incrimination clause, the protection afforded in a system of criminal justice which convicted a defendant on the basis of evidence independently secured and not out of his own mouth. In the Court’s view, this had been the law in the federal courts since 1897, and the application of the clause to the States in 1964 necessitated the application of the principle in state courts as well. Therefore, the clause requires that police interrogation practices be so structured as to secure to suspects that they not be stripped of the ability to make a free and rational choice between speaking and not speaking. The warnings and the provision of counsel were essential, the Court said, to this type of system.306 “In these cases,” said Chief Justice Warren, “we might not find the defendants’ statements to have been involuntary in traditional terms.”307 The acknowledgment that the decision considerably expanded upon previous doctrine, even if the assimilation of self–incrimination values by the confession–exclusion rule be considered complete, was more clearly made a week after Miranda when, in denying retroactivity to that case and to Escobedo, the Court asserted that law enforcement officers had relied justifiably upon prior cases, “now no longer binding,” which treated the failure to warn a suspect of his rights or the failure to grant access to counsel as one of the factors to be considered.308 It was thus not the application of the self–incrimination clause to police interrogation in Miranda that constituted a major change from precedent but rather the series of warnings and guar[p.1332]antees which the Court imposed as security for the observance of the privilege.
While the Court’s decision rapidly became highly controversial and the source of much political agitation, including a prominent role in the 1968 presidential election, the Court has continued to adhere to it,309 albeit not without considerable qualification. In 1968, Congress enacted a statute designed to set aside Miranda in the federal courts and to reinstate the traditional voluntariness test; an effort to enact a companion provision applicable to the state courts was defeated.310 The statute, however, appears to lie unimplemented because of constitutional doubts about it,311 and changing membership of the Court has resulted only in some curtailing of the case’s principles.
Supplement: [P. 1332, delete all of first paragraph after first sentence, and add the following new paragraphs:]
For years, the constitutional status of the Miranda warnings was clouded in uncertainty. Had the Court announced a constitutional rule, or merely set forth supervisory rules that could be superseded by statutory rules? The fact that Miranda itself applied the rules to a state court proceeding, and that the Court in subsequent cases consistently applied the warnings to state proceedings, was strong evidence of constitutional moorings. In 1968, however, Congress enacted a statute designed to set aside Miranda in the federal courts and to reinstate the traditional voluntariness test.13 The statute lay unimplemented, for the most part, due to constitutional doubts about it. The Court also created exceptions to the Miranda warnings over the years, and referred to the warnings as “prophylactic” 14 and “not themselves rights protected by the Constitution.” 15 There were even hints that some Justices might be willing to overrule the decision.
In Dickerson v. United States,16 the Court resolved the basic issue, holding that Miranda was a constitutional decision that could not be overturned by statute, and consequently that 18 U.S.C. § 3501 was unconstitutional. Application of Miranda warnings to state proceedings necessarily implied a constitutional base, the Court explained, since federal courts “hold no supervisory authority over state judicial proceedings.” 17 Moreover, Miranda itself had purported to “give concrete constitutional guidance to law enforcement agencies and courts to follow.” 18 That the Miranda rules are constitution–based does not mean that they are “immutable,” however. The Court repeated its invitation for legislative action that would be “at least as effective” in protecting a suspect’s right to remain silent during custodial interrogation. Section 3501, however, merely reinstated the “totality–of–the–circumstances” rule held inadequate in Miranda, so that provision could not be considered as effective as the Miranda warnings.
The Dickerson Court also rejected a request to overrule Miranda. “Whether or not we would agree with Miranda’s reasoning and its resulting rule, were we addressing the issue in the first instance,” Chief Justice Rehnquist wrote for a seven–Justice majority, “the principles of stare decisis weigh heavily against overruling it now.” There was no special justification for overruling the decision; subsequent cases had not undermined the decision’s doctrinal underpinnings, but rather had “reaffirm[ed]” its “core ruling.” Moreover, Miranda warnings had “become so embedded in routine police practice [that they] have become part of our national culture.” 19
Supplement: [P. 1332, substitute for paragraph that carries over to P. 1333:]
Although the Court had suggested in 1974 that most Miranda claims could be disallowed in federal habeas corpus cases,20 such a course was squarely rejected in 1993. The Stone v. Powell 21 rule, precluding federal habeas corpus review of a state prisoner’s claim that his conviction rests on evidence obtained through an unconstitutional search or seizure, does not extend to preclude federal habeas review of a state prisoner’s claim that his conviction had been obtained in violation of Miranda safeguards, the Court ruled in Withrow v. Williams.22 The Miranda rule differs from the Mapp v. Ohio 23 exclusionary rule denied enforcement in Stone, the Court explained. While both are prophylactic rules, Miranda unlike Mapp, safeguards a fundamental trial right, the privilege against self–incrimination. Miranda also protects against the use at trial of unreliable statements, hence, unlike Mapp, relates to the correct ascertainment of guilt.24 A further consideration was that eliminating review of Miranda claims would not significantly reduce federal habeas review of state convictions, since most Miranda claims could be recast in terms of due process denials resulting from admission of involuntary confessions.25
In one respect, though, it appears that the Court, by suggesting that Miranda claims could be disallowed in most instances in federal habeas corpus cases, has constructed a rationale that could lead to a substantial limitation on Miranda’s operation.312 This potential limitation flows from the analysis in Michigan v. Tucker,313 in which the Court was confronted with the question whether Miranda required the exclusion of the testimony of a witness who had been discovered because of the defendant’s statement during interrogation following an inadequate Miranda warning.314 The interrogation had taken place prior to Miranda, but the trial had followed the Court’s decision,315 leading to the exclusion of defendant’s statement but not of the testimony of the witness. The actual holding of the Court and the concurrence of two Justices turned on the fact that the interrogation preceded Miranda and that warnings had been given, although not the full Miranda warnings; thus, in[p.1333]some respects, the decision is in the line of retroactivity cases. But of great possible significance was the language of the Court in considering “whether the police conduct complained of directly infringed upon respondent’s rights against compulsory self–incrimination or whether it instead violated only the prophylactic rules developed to protect that right.”316 Finding that the defendant’s statement had not been coerced or otherwise procured in violation of his privilege, the Court found that good–faith, inadvertent error in not fully complying with the “prophylactic” Miranda rules did not require exclusion of the testimony, because the error preceded Miranda, because exclusion would not deter wrongful conduct, and because admission would not implicate the trial court in the use of possibly untrustworthy evidence.317 Obviously, dividing the question in this way between a constitutional right and a judicially–created enforcement mechanism permits courts a considerable degree of flexibility to apply or not apply the exclusionary rule previously thought to be fairly rigid under Miranda.318[p.1333]
In any event, the Court has established several lines of decisions interpreting Miranda.
First, persons who are questioned while they are in custody must be given the Miranda warnings. Miranda applies to “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.”319 Clearly, a suspect detained in jail is in custody, even if the detention is for some offense other than the one about which he is questioned.320 If he is placed under ar[p.1334]rest, even if he is in his own home, the questioning is custodial.321 But the fact that a suspect may be present in a police station does not, in the absence of indicia that he was in custody, mean that the questioning is custodial,322 and the fact that he is in his home or other familiar surroundings will ordinarily lead to a conclusion that the inquiry was noncustodial.323 As with investigative stops under the Fourth Amendment, there is a wide variety of police–citizen contacts, and the Supreme Court has not explored at any length the application of Miranda to questioning on the street and elsewhere in situations in which the police have not asserted authority sufficient to place the citizen in custody.324
Supplement: [P. 1334, add to text following n.324:]
Whether a person is “in custody” is an objective test assessed in terms of how a reasonable person in the suspect’s shoes would perceive his or her freedom to leave; a police officer’s subjective and undisclosed view that a person being interrogated is a suspect is not relevant for Miranda purposes.26
Second, persons who are interrogated while they are in custody must be given the Miranda warnings. It is not necessary under Miranda that the police squarely ask a question. The breadth of the interrogation concept is demonstrated in Rhode Island v. Innis.325 There, police had apprehended the defendant as a murder suspect but had not found the weapon used. While he was being transported to police headquarters in a squad car, the defendant, who had been given the Miranda warnings and had asserted he wished to consult a lawyer before submitting to questioning, was not asked questions by the officers. However, the officers engaged in conversation among themselves, in which they indicated that a school for handicapped children was near the crime scene and that they hoped the weapon was found before a child discovered it and was[p.1335]injured. The defendant then took them to the weapon’s hiding place.
Unanimously rejecting a contention that Miranda would have been violated only by express questioning, the Court said: “We conclude that the Miranda safeguards come into play whenever a person in custody is subjected to either express questioning or its functional equivalent. That is to say, the term ‘interrogation’ under Miranda refers not only to express questioning, but also to any words or actions on the part of the police (other than those normally attendant to arrest and custody) that the police should know are reasonably likely to elicit an incriminating response from the suspect. The latter portion of this definition focuses primarily upon the perceptions of the suspect, rather than the intent of the police. This focus reflects the fact that the Miranda safeguards were designed to vest a suspect in custody with an added measure of protection against coercive police practices, without regard to objective proof of the underlying intent of the police.”326 A divided Court then concluded that the officers’ conversation did not amount to a functional equivalent of questioning and that the evidence was admissible.327
In Estelle v. Smith,328 the Court held that a court–ordered jailhouse interview with the defendant by a psychiatrist seeking to determine his competency to stand trial, when the defense had raised no issue of insanity or incompetency, constituted interrogation for Miranda purposes; the psychiatrist’s conclusions about the defendant’s dangerousness were inadmissible at the capital sentencing phase of the trial because the defendant had not been given his Miranda warnings prior to the interview. That the defendant had been questioned by a psychiatrist designated to conduct a neutral competency examination, rather than by a police officer, was “immaterial,” the Court concluded, since the psychiatrist’s testimony at the penalty phase changed his role from one of neutrality to that of an agent of the prosecution.329 Other instances of questioning in less formal contexts in which the issues of custody and interroga[p.1336]tion intertwine, e.g., in on–the–street encounters, await explication by the Court.
Third, before a suspect in custody is interrogated, he must be given full warnings, or the equivalent, of his rights. Miranda, of course, required express warnings to be given to an in–custody suspect of his right to remain silent, that anything he said may be used as evidence against him, that he has a right to counsel, and that if he cannot afford counsel he is entitled to an appointed attorney.330 The Court recognized that “other fully effective means” could be devised to convey the right to remain silent,331 but it was firm that the prosecution was not permitted to show that an unwarned suspect knew of his rights in some manner.332 But it is not necessary that the police give the warnings as a verbatim recital of the words in the Miranda opinion itself, so long as the words used “fully conveyed” to a defendant his rights.333
Fourth, once a warned suspect asserts his right to silence and requests counsel, the police must scrupulously respect his assertion of right. The Miranda Court strongly stated that once a warned suspect “indicates in any manner, at any time prior to or during questioning, that he wishes to remain silent, the interrogation must cease.” Further, if the suspect indicates he wishes the assistance of counsel before interrogation, the questioning must cease until he has counsel.334 At least with respect to counsel, the Court has created practically a per se rule barring the police from continuing or from reinitiating interrogation with a suspect requesting counsel until counsel is present, save only that the suspect himself may initiate further proceedings. Thus, in Edwards v. Arizona,335 the Court ruled that Miranda had been violated when police reinitiated questioning after the suspect had requested counsel. Questioning had ceased as soon as the suspect had requested counsel, and the suspect had been returned to his cell. Questioning had resumed the following day only after different police officers had confronted the suspect and again warned him of his rights; the suspect agreed to talk and thereafter incriminated himself. Nonetheless, the Court held, “when an accused has invoked his right to[p.1337]have counsel present during custodial interrogation, a valid waiver of that right cannot be established by showing only that he responded to further police–initiated custodial interrogation even if he has been advised of this rights. We further hold that an accused . . . , having expressed his desire to deal with the police only through counsel, is not subject to further interrogation by the authorities until counsel has been made available to him, unless the accused himself initiates further communication, exchanges, or conversations with the police.”336 The Edwards rule bars police–initiated questioning stemming from a separate investigation as well as questioning relating to the crime for which the suspect was arrested.337
However, the suspect must specifically ask for counsel; if he requests the assistance of someone else he thinks may be helpful to him, that is not a valid assertion of Miranda rights.338 Moreover, the rigid Edwards rule is not applicable to other aspects of the warnings. That is, if the suspect asserts his right to remain silent, the questioning must cease, but officers are not precluded from subsequently initiating a new round of interrogation, provided only that they again give the Miranda warnings.339
Fifth, a properly warned suspect may waive his Miranda rights and submit to custodial interrogation. Miranda recognized that a suspect may voluntarily and knowingly give up his rights and re[p.1338]spond to questioning, but the Court cautioned that the prosecution bore a “heavy burden” to establish that a valid waiver had occurred.340 While the waiver need not be express in order for it to be valid,341 neither may a suspect’s silence or similar conduct constitute a waiver.342 It must be shown that the suspect was competent to understand and appreciate the warning and to be able to waive his rights.343 Essentially, resolution of the issue of waiver “must be determined on ‘the particular facts and circumstances surrounding that case, including the background, experience, and conduct of the accused.”’344
Supplement: [P. 1338, add to text following n.344:]
After a suspect has knowingly and voluntarily waived his Miranda rights, police officers may continue questioning until and unless the suspect clearly requests an attorney.27
Sixth, the admissions of an unwarned or improperly warned suspect may not be used directly against him at trial, but the Court has permitted some use for other purposes, such as impeachment. A confession or other incriminating admissions obtained in violation of Miranda may not, of course, be introduced against him at trial for purposes of establishing guilt345 or for determining the sentence, at least in bifurcated trials in capital cases,346 and neither may the “fruits” of such a confession or admission be used.347 The Court, in opinions which bespeak a sense of necessity to narrowly construe Miranda, has broadened the permissible impeachment purposes for which unlawful confessions and admissions may[p.1339]be used.348 Thus, in Harris v. New York,349 the Court held that the prosecution could use statements, obtained in violation of Miranda, to impeach the defendant’s testimony if he voluntarily took the stand and denied commission of the offense. Subsequently, in Oregon v. Hass,350 the Court permitted impeachment use of a statement made by the defendant after police had ignored his request for counsel following his Miranda warning. Such impeachment material, however, must still meet the standard of voluntariness associated with the pre–Miranda tests for the admission of confessions and statements.351
The Court has created a “public safety” exception to the Miranda warning requirement, but has refused to create another exception for misdemeanors and lesser offenses. In New York v. Quarles,352 the Court held admissible a recently apprehended suspect’s response in a public supermarket to the arresting officer’s demand to know the location of a gun that the officer had reason to believe the suspect had just discarded or hidden in the supermarket. The Court, in an opinion by Justice Rehnquist,353 declined to place officers in the “untenable position” of having to make instant decisions as to whether to proceed with Miranda warnings and thereby increase the risk to themselves or to the public or whether to dispense with the warnings and run the risk that resulting evidence will be excluded at trial. While acknowledging that the exception itself will “lessen the desirable clarity of the rule,” the Court predicted that confusion would be slight: “[w]e think that police officers can and will distinguish almost instinctively between[p.1340]questions necessary to secure their own safety or the safety of the public and questions designed solely to elicit testimonial evidence from a suspect.”354 No such compelling justification was offered for a Miranda exception for lesser offenses, however, and protecting the rule’s “simplicity and clarity” counseled against creating one.355 “[A] person subjected to custodial interrogation is entitled to the benefit of the procedural safeguards enunciated in Miranda, regardless of the nature or severity of the offense of which he is suspected or for which he was arrested.”356
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