Miranda and Exceptions, 0315 SCBJ, S.C. Lawyer, March 2015, #24

Author:Alex R. Stalvey, J.

Miranda and Exceptions

Vol. 26 Issue 5 Pg. 24

South Carolina BAR Journal

March, 2015

\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0 Alex R. Stalvey, J.

\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0“You have the right to remain silent …” We were all aware of these famous words prior to entering the legal profession. Whether you grew up watching Dragnet or Law & Order, the Miranda warnings have been a part of popular culture for as long as most of us can remember. Not only do we know these words, but criminal defendants know them as well. In most cases, a defendant’s incriminating statement is the strongest evidence of guilt offered by the prosecution. You can attack the credibility of a co-defendant’s testimony. You can challenge the reliability of an eyewitness’ identification. Corroborating physical evidence may be lacking or non-existent. Establishing these deficiencies in the state’s case are important but often will be disregarded by the jury once they become aware of your client’s detailed confession to the police. In order to challenge the admissibility of a confession, an attorney must establish a violation of the defendant’s Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself or that he was not aware of his Sixth Amendment right to legal counsel. The Miranda warnings are necessary to preserve these specific constitutional rights; however, there are exceptions to Miranda, which are the focus of this article.

\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0Factual history of Miranda vs. Arizona

\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0Ernesto Miranda was accused of the kidnapping and rape of an eigteen-year-old girl that occurred on March 2, 1963, in Mesa, Arizona. A week after the attack, the victim’s brother saw a car driving slowly past the movie theater where his sister had been abducted and provided police with the license plate number, which was registered to Miranda’s wife. Miranda was arrested at his home on March 16, 1963, and taken to a Phoenix police station where he w as identified by the victim.1 After two hours of questioning, Miranda admitted to the kidnapping and rape and provided police with a written confession, which he signed.2 At the top of the statement was a typed paragraph stating that the confession was made voluntarily, without threats or promises of immunity and “with full knowledge of my legal rights, understanding any statement I make may be used against me.”3 The officers testified at trial that Miranda was not advised that he had a right to have an attorney present.4 Over defense counsel’s objection, Miranda’s written confession was admitted into evidence.5 The jury found Miranda guilty of both charges and he was given concurrent sentences of twenty and thirty years in prison.6

\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0On appeal, the U.S. Supreme Court determined that Miranda was not advised of his right to consult with an attorney and to have one present during the interrogation, nor was his right not to be compelled to incriminate himself “effectively protected” prior to his interrogation.7 The Court considered the typed warnings that were presented to Miranda insufficient and that the one paragraph warning did not “approach the knowing and intelligent waiver required to relinquish constitutional rights.”8

\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0The Court held that when an individual is taken into custody or deprived of his freedom by the authorities in any significant way, the privilege against self-incrimi-nation is jeopardized.9 Prior to any questioning, a suspect must be warned “that he has the right to remain silent, that anything he says can be used against him in a court of law, [and] that he has the right to the presence of an attorney, ”10 either retained or appointed.

\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0Miranda warnings triggered by “custodial interrogation” of a defendant

\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0Miranda warnings are required when a suspect is: 1) in custody and 2) subject to interrogation. “Custody” has been defined to include any situation in which a defendant is under formal arrest or there has been a restraint on his freedom of movement to the degree associated with a formal arrest.11 In analyzing whether a suspect is in custody, the court considers whether a reasonable man in the suspect’s position would have understood himself to be in custody.12

\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0In determining whether a defendant was “subject to interrogation, ” the court considers whether the defendant was “subjected to either express questioning or its functional equivalent.”13 If it is not clear whether express questioning has occurred, the court determines whether police actions or comments were reasonably likely to elicit an incriminating statement from the defendant.14 If a suspect invokes his right to counsel, police interrogation must cease unless the suspect initiates further communication with the police.15 If a suspect invokes his right to remain silent, the police may resume questioning as long as the original request to cease questioning was “scrupulously honored.”16

\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0Specific exceptions to Miranda

\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0Routine booking questions

\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0In Pennsylvania v. Muniz, 17 the U.S. Supreme Court held that a defendant’s responses to routine questions regarding his name, address, height, weight, eye color, date of birth and current age were admissible despite the fact that Miranda warnings had not been given.18 After being arrested for driving under the influence, Muniz was brought to the Cumberland County Booking Center by police who had a routine practice of videotaping the booking procedure of those suspected of driving while intoxicated.19 Muniz was informed that he was being videotaped but was not given his Miranda warnings.20 He was asked by an officer to provide his name, address, height, weight, eye color, date of birth and current age. Muniz answered the officer’s questions, slurring his words and stumbling over his address and age.21 The videotape of the booking procedure was admitted into evidence over defense counsel’s objection that Muniz’s slurred responses were incriminating and that he had not been advised of his right not to incriminate himself under Miranda. The Court held that Muniz’s responses to the booking questions fell within a “routine booking question” exception, which exempts from Miranda’s coverage questions to secure the “biographical data necessary to complete booking or pretrial services.”22

\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0Questions asked during the booking process designed to elicit incriminating statements do not fall within this exception and should be inadmissible unless the suspect has been given the Miranda warnings and waived his rights.23

\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0Public safety

\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0In New York v. Quarles, 24 the U.S. Supreme Court held that Miranda warnings are not required in situations involving an immediate risk of danger to the public.25 Officers were stopped by a young woman who told them she had just been raped at gunpoint...

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