custodial interrogation

Primary tabs

Custodial interrogation refers to the questioning of a detained person by the police in connection with a criminal investigation. A person qualifies as detained not only when under arrest, but also whenever they are not free to leave for other reasons. 

For example, the court has held that preventing a car owner from leaving for the purposes of obtaining their license and registration at a traffic stop can qualify as a detainment. 

Due to the seminal case Miranda v. Arizona, a custodial interrogation cannot occur unless the detainer warns the detained person of their Miranda rights. Any statements made by a detained person who was not warned of their Miranda rights are inadmissible in court. 

[Last updated in July of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team]