A detective wants to meet with me, police want me to make a statement, the police called me in for questioning; these are just some of the questions we often get from individuals under investigation. Or possibly you have already had that meeting and made a statement you now need to know the implications of. This article will take a look at confessions, the protections the US and Indiana Constitutions provide, and the different scenarios you may find yourself in.
What’s the First Thing I Should Do?
As you can see, a pretty common denominator in all of three instances is the suspect voluntarily going to the police department to answer questions which brings us to that question we so commonly get from people: the police want me to come in and make a statement, what should I do? Contact an attorney! It doesn’t matter if you think it is just a coin flip case where if you tell the police your side of the story, all things will even out and you will make the investigation go away. That is almost never the case. An experienced attorney can go over the facts of your investigation and help you make the right decision on whether you should make a statement or not.
To recap, the US and Indiana constitutions provide protections for individuals who the police solicit statements from. However, these protections only apply to certain situations and do not apply to all scenarios or interactions with law enforcement. Therefore, it is almost always recommended to talk to an attorney to see what your situation could be as you don’t want to find yourself talking your way into a deeper hole.
Understanding the Fifth Amendment
The Fifth Amendment of the US constitution is what gives citizens the right to remain silent and the right to counsel during custodial interrogations. These are rights that must be affirmatively invoked prior to or during the custodial interrogation of the individual and can be invoked before or after charged have been filed. The first question to ask is did the taking of the defendant’s statement violate the Fifth Amendment and does the Fifth Amendment even apply.
The Fifth Amendment protections only apply to government officials acting in an official capacity or others acting as agents for the government. Therefore, if you find yourself taking part in an interrogation with law enforcement, depending on the situation, it is likely you should be given the standard Miranda warning. However, the Miranda warning requirement does not apply to interrogations by private citizens acting on their own and not under police control, even if the private citizens place the suspect in some form of restraint. For example, think of a shoplifting situation where an individual is caught and brought back to a security office by non-law enforcement company security and questioned. Any statement made is not likely to be protected by the Fifth Amendment. Another situation that can arise is when an individual is in jail with other incarcerated individuals. With nothing else to do, prisoners typically talk about their case and why there in jail. As long as a fellow prisoner independently collects information, and is not an informant for the police, the statements are admissible.
Were you In Custody at the Time?
The next question is was the statement taken while the defendant is in custody of law enforcement. In determining whether an individual was in “custody” for Miranda purposes, courts will look at the totality of the circumstances surrounding the interrogation and look objectively at a couple different aspects. This includes taking an objective, in-their-shoes view of whether a reasonable person under the same circumstances would believe they were under arrest or not free to leave. Some of the other consideration to determine whether an individual is in “custody” includes whether and to what extent the suspect has been made aware that they are free to refrain from answering questions, whether there has been prolonged, coercive, and accusatory questioning, the degree of police control over the environment, and whether the suspect could reasonably believe that they have the right to leave the scene.
Some examples of situation where the courts have determine the suspect was not in custody and therefore did not have to be read Miranda warnings include: (1) when a suspect voluntarily drove himself to the police station after police asked to interview him after being told he was not under arrest, (2) suspect rode in front seat of car and was not handcuffed and was taken home after the interview, the court determined the defendant was not in custody, and (3) suspect was not in custody where he voluntarily accompanied officers to police station, had previous experience with the law, was friends with one of the officers, and requested to see his girlfriend before he was arrest.
If you or somebody you know has recently been convicted of a crime or has questions about the criminal case process, contact the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Banks & Brower, LLC. We are available at all times by calling us at (317) 870-0019 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.