Chapter 5 - §3. Exceptions to Miranda

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§3. Exceptions to Miranda

A subject's statement taken in violation of Miranda need not be excluded if an exception to the rule exists. Four exceptions, all based on an overriding societal interest, have been recognized.

§3.1. Public-safety exception. The public-safety exception allows officers to question and otherwise speak with a subject without first providing Miranda warnings, as long as the questions relate to the location of a dangerous weapon or other concern for public safety. See New York v. Quarles (1984) 467 U.S. 649, 657. In such instances, the need to obtain prompt answers to matters "posing a threat to the public safety outweighs the need" for Miranda warnings. Quarles, 467 U.S. at 657; see People v. Simpson (4th Dist.1998) 65 Cal.App.4th 854, 861; see, e.g., U.S. v. Williams (9th Cir.2016) 842 F.3d 1143, 1149-50 (exception did not apply to questions at booking about gang affiliation when information would not meet objectively reasonable need to protect against immediate danger). Under this rationale, incriminating statements obtained by police in an attempt to meet an urgent public-safety need are not made inadmissible by Miranda. See Quarles, 467 U.S. at 657; Simpson, 65 Cal.App.4th at 861.

§3.2. Officer-safety exception. The officer-safety exception allows officers to question and otherwise speak with a subject without first providing Miranda warnings as long as the officer has reason to believe that his own life is in danger and the officer's primary motivation in questioning the subject is to protect his own life. See People v. Cressy (1st Dist.1996) 47 Cal.App.4th 981, 987-88. For example, an officer can ask a suspect in custody whether he has a weapon or where a weapon is located before giving any Miranda warnings. If such questions are limited in scope to what is necessary for the officer's own safety and not aimed at gathering incriminating evidence, a suspect's incriminating responses are admissible as an exception to Miranda. See People v. Sims (1993) 5 Cal.4th 405, 451; Cressy, 47 Cal.App.4th at 988-89.

§3.3. Rescue-doctrine exception. The rescue-doctrine exception allows officers to ask "noncoercive questions . . . of a material witness in custody" without providing Miranda warnings if doing so presents the possibility of saving the life of a missing victim, even if the answers might be incriminating...

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