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Chapter 3: Pre-Trial Defenses

FIFTH AMENDMENT DEFENSES


Motions to Suppress Statements


OVERVIEW

Law enforcement will typically attempt to interview a defendant in order to obtain a confession or admission. This may occur during the investigation, during the execution of a search warrant, at the time of arrest, or as part of what is referred to as a “knock-and-talk.”

Whenever a defendant has made statements to law enforcement, the Fifth Amendment may be implicated. A defendant can file a motion to suppress statements arguing that the statement in question was obtained in violation of Miranda or that the statement was involuntary.

In practice, very few cases are ruled to be involuntary. Miranda violations, however, are much more common. For Miranda to apply, the defendant must have been in custody and the statements must have been in response to an interrogation. When a motion to suppress is granted due to a Miranda violation, the Government is prohibited from introducing the unlawfully obtained statement in its case-in-chief.

CUSTODY FOR MIRANDA PURPOSES

In Miranda v. Arizona, the Supreme Court established procedural safeguards to ensure Fifth Amendment protections in the face of “overzealous police practices.” Under Miranda, “the prosecution may not use statements … stemming from custodial interrogation of the defendant unless it demonstrates the use of procedural safeguards effective to secure the privilege against self-incrimination.” Therefore before any questioning occurs, “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.” [1]

Miranda warnings are only required for statements made during custodial interrogations. Thus, for these warnings to be relevant, an individual must be legally considered “in custody.”[2] Whether a suspect is deemed in custody under Miranda hinges on the circumstances of each case, with “the ultimate inquiry” focusing on whether there is a “formal arrest or restraint on freedom of movement” comparable to a formal arrest.[3] This determination “depends on the objective circumstances of the interrogation” rather than “the subjective views harbored by either the interrogating officers or the person being questioned.”[4]

If a reasonable person in the suspect’s position “would have understood that he or she was under arrest,” the police are obligated to provide Miranda warnings before initiating questioning.[5] Rather than enumerating specific factors for consideration, the Supreme Court mandates that courts “examine all of the circumstances surrounding the interrogation, including those that would have affected how a reasonable person in the suspect’s position would perceive his or her freedom to leave.”[6]


[1] Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S. Ct. 1602, 16 L. Ed. 2d 694 (1966)

[2] Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S. Ct. 1602, 16 L. Ed. 2d 694 (1966)

[3] California v. Beheler, 463 U.S. 1121, 103 S. Ct. 3517, 77 L. Ed. 2d 1275 (1983); Oregon v. Mathiason, 429 U.S. 492, 495, 97 S. Ct. 711, 714, 50 L. Ed. 2d 714 (1977)

[4] Stansbury v. California, 511 U.S. 318, 114 S. Ct. 1526, 128 L. Ed. 2d 293 (1994)

[5] Berkemer v. McCarty, 468 U.S. 420, 422, 104 S. Ct. 3138, 3141, 82 L. Ed. 2d 317 (1984)

[6] J.D.B. v. North Carolina, 564 U.S. 261, 131 S. Ct. 2394, 180 L. Ed. 2d 310 (2011)

FACTORS RELEVANT TO CUSTODY INQUIRY

  1. Mode of Police Summons:
    a. Language used during summoning

  2. Environment:
    a.
    Familiarity or neutrality of surroundings
    b.
    Isolation in nonpublic questioning room
    c.
    Suspect’s separation from family or colleagues who could offer moral support

  3. Law enforcement presence:
    a.
    Number of law officers present at the scene

  4. Physical Restraint:
    a.
    Degree of physical restraint, including physical force and/or threats
    b.
    Potential display of a weapon by an officer
    c.
    Physical contact between officer and defendant

  5. Interrogation Details:
    a. Time, place, and purpose of the encounter
    b.
    Duration and character of interrogation
    c.
    Extent to which the individual is confronted with evidence of guilt

  6. Legal Aspects:
    a. Whether/when probable cause to arrest exists[7]
    b. When the suspect becomes the focus of the investigation

  7. Subjective Factors:
    a.
    Subjective intent of the police
    b.
    Subjective belief of the defendant
    c. Officer’s tone of voice and general demeanor

  8. Communication:
    a. Whether the suspect was told they did not need to answer questions/could leave
    b. Extent to which officers’ beliefs about the individuals’ potential culpability were communicated[8]

  9. Safety Considerations:
    a.
    Risk of danger presented by the suspect

  10. Post-Questioning Actions:
    a. Release of suspect at the end of questioning
    b. Withholding of money/belongings 

Any inquiry into whether the officers have focused their suspicions on the individual under interrogation, but have not disclosed those suspicions, is irrelevant for Miranda purposes.[9] Questioning in a “coercive environment” alone is insufficient to trigger the need for Miranda warnings.[10]

Factors explicitly identified/agreed upon by circuit:

First Circuit[11]: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Second Circuit[12]: 2, 3, 4, 5, 9

Third Circuit[13]: 8

Fourth Circuit[14]: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7

Fifth Circuit[15]: 6, 7

Sixth Circuit[16]: 4, 5, 8

Seventh Circuit[17]: 5, 8, 10

Eighth Circuit[18]: 1, 3, 4, 5, 8, 10

Ninth Circuit[19]: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Tenth Circuit[20]: 2, 3, 4, 7

Eleventh Circuit[21]: 1, 2, 3, 10

Supreme Court[22]: 2, 4, 5, 7, 8

No one of these factors is determinative, and the list of factors identified by each circuit is non-exhaustive.


[7] Probable cause alone is not sufficient to trigger the right to receive Miranda warnings ( United States v. Woods, 720 F.2d 1022 (9th Cir. 1983)).

[8] The Supreme Court clarified that if a police officer does not disclose their subjective view on whether the person under questioning is a suspect, their view does not affect whether or not the person is in custody under Miranda. If the officer conveys their beliefs “by word or deed” to the person under questioning, they then affect how a reasonable person being questioned would understand their “freedom of action.” That being said, even if an officer makes a clear statement that the person being interrogated is a suspect, the ultimate weight and pertinence of that communication depends on the facts and circumstances of each particular case (Stansbury v. California, 511 U.S. 318, 114 S. Ct. 1526, 128 L. Ed. 2d 293 (1994)).

[9] Stansbury v. California, 511 U.S. 318, 326, 114 S. Ct. 1526, 1530, 128 L. Ed. 2d 293 (1994)

[10] Oregon v. Mathiason, 429 U.S. 492, 97 S. Ct. 711, 50 L. Ed. 2d 714 (1977)

[11] United States v. Streifel, 781 F.2d 953, 961 (1st Cir. 1986); 1 W. LaFave & J. Israel, Criminal Procedure § 6.6, at 494–99 (1984).

[12] United States v. Newton, 369 F.3d 659, 674 (2d Cir. 2004)

[13] United States v. Varela-Garcia, 87 F. App’x 795, 797 (3d Cir. 2004)

[14] United States v. Hashime, 734 F.3d 278, 283 (4th Cir. 2013)

[15] Alberti v. Estelle, 524 F.2d 1265, 1267 (5th Cir. 1975)

[16] United States v. Panak, 552 F.3d 462, 465 (6th Cir. 2009); United States v. Salvo, 133 F.3d 943 (6th Cir. 1998)

[17] Lentz v. Kennedy, 967 F.3d 675 (7th Cir. 2020)

[18] United States v. Griffin, 922 F.2d 1343, 1347 (8th Cir. 1990)

[19] United States v. Bautista, 684 F.2d 1286, 1292 (9th Cir. 1982); United States v. Booth, 669 F.2d 1231 (9th Cir. 1981); United States v. Craighead, 539 F.3d 1073, 1084 (9th Cir. 2008)

[20] United States v. Griffin, 7 F.3d 1512, 1519 (10th Cir. 1993)

[21] United States v. Jayyousi, 657 F.3d 1085, 1127 (11th Cir. 2011)

[22] Stansbury v. California, 511 U.S. 318, 114 S. Ct. 1526, 128 L. Ed. 2d 293 (1994); Howes v. Fields, 565 U.S. 499, 508, 132 S. Ct. 1181, 1189, 182 L. Ed. 2d 17 (2012); Beckwith v. United States, 425 U.S. 341, 345, 96 S. Ct. 1612, 1616, 48 L. Ed. 2d 1 (1976)

MOTION TO SUPPRESS GRANTED DUE TO MIRANDA VIOLATION

First Circuit

United States v. Mittel-Carey, 493 F.3d 36 (1st Cir. 2007)

Factors ultimately resulting in suppression:

  • (2) Defendant was separated from his girlfriend
  • (3) Eight agents were present, resulting in police dominated atmosphere
  • (4) Agents maintained physical control over suspect at all times
  • (4) Defendant was escorted by at least two agents everywhere, including bathroom
  • (4) Defendant was directed where to sit
  • (4) Defendant was confronted at gunpoint
  • (5) Interrogation lasted 1.5-2 hours
  • (5) Interrogation occurred early in the morning
  • (8) Defendant was told about the evidence against him, and that a long prison sentence was in his future
  • (8) Defendant was never told he was free to leave or that he would not be arrested
  • (8) Interrogator made coercive statements and avoided giving Miranda warnings

Factors ultimately outweighed:

  • (1) Interrogation occurred in defendant’s residence
  • (9) Agent’s claim that their actions were necessary for evidence preservation and officer safety

United States v. Rogers, 659 F.3d 74 (1st Cir. 2011)

Factors ultimately resulting in suppression:

  • (3) Defendant found three police officers in control of home and questioning his wife
  • (4) Defendant’s military commander had ordered him to return home
  • (4) Nothing was said or done to relieve the force of the defendant’s commander’s order sending him home
  • (8) An officer told the defendant “today’s the day mister, today is the day.”
  • (8) Defendant was not told he was free to leave

Factors ultimately outweighed:

  • (1) Defendant agreed to go to police station
  • (2) Interrogation occurred in defendant’s home
  • (8) Defendant was told he was free to leave

United States v. Grubert, 605 F. Supp. 3d 171 (D. Mass. 2022)

Factors ultimately resulting in suppression:

  • (2) Defendant was initially not allowed to speak with his wife
  • (3) Fifteen agents dominated the scene, resulting in an overwhelming number of agents
  • (4) The defendant was placed in handcuffs
  • (5) Agents entered the defendant’s home by force at night
  • (7) Agent and the defendant both remarked on the “shock” the defendant experienced
  • (7) Defendant asked for permission to get water and use the bathroom
  • (8) Agents indicated several times that the defendant’s arrest was imminent
  • (8) Defendant was never told he could leave

Factors ultimately outweighed:

  • (2) Interrogation occurred in defendant’s home
  • (3) Only two agents participated substantively in the interview
  • (4) Defendant was not physically restrained

Fourth Circuit

United States v. Hashime, 734 F.3d 278 (4th Cir. 2013):

Factors ultimately resulting in suppression:

  • (2) Defendant was isolated from family members during the interrogation
  • (2) The defendant lost control over his home
  • (3) There were a large number of officers present
  • (4) The officers restricted the defendant’s movements
  • (4) Officers displayed their weapons
  • (5) The interrogation was hours long
  • (8) Officers told defendant they need to know answers to questions and that they could not leave him alone

Factors ultimately outweighed:

  • (2) Interrogation occurred in defendant’s home
  • (7) The defendant cooperated voluntarily
  • (8) Law enforcement told the defendant that he did not have to answer questions and was free to leave
  • (8) Officers offered for the defendant to take breaks

United States v. Colonna, 511 F.3d 431 (4th Cir. 2007):

Factors ultimately resulting in suppression:

  • (2) The questioning occurred in an FBI vehicle
  • (3) There were 24 FBI agents in the defendant’s house
  • (4) Defendant was guarded at all times
  • (4) The officers displayed their weapons
  • (5) The questioning was hours long
  • (8) Officers never told the defendant he was free to leave or that he did not have to respond to questions

Factors ultimately outweighed:

  • (8) (10) Agents told the defendant that he was not under arrest

United States v. Musgrave, 726 F. Supp. 1027 (W.D.N.C. 1989)

Factors ultimately resulting in suppression:

  • (2) The questioning occurred in private
  • (3) There were eight officers in the small apartment
  • (4) Restraints were placed on the defendant
  • (4) The defendant was unable to leave apartment
  • (4) Three of the officers were uniformed and visibly armed
  • (5) The defendant was questioned for 45 minutes

Factors ultimately outweighed:

  • (2) Interrogation occurred in defendant’s apartment
  • (8) Officers did not tell the defendant that he was under arrest

 United States v. Freeman, 61 F. Supp. 3d 534 (E.D. Va. 2014)

Factors ultimately resulting in suppression:

  • (2) Defendant was kept separated from his family in a closed bedroom
  • (3) 21 law enforcement agents came to the defendant’s home
  • (4) Defendant was kept under supervision and control of an officer at all times
  • (4) Defendant woke up to drawn handguns
  • (4) One officer used his gun to knock a tissue out of the defendant’s hand
  • (5) Interrogation occurred early in the morning
  • (5) Defendant was interrogated for 45 minutes during the search of his home

Factors ultimately outweighed:

  • (2) Interrogation occurred in defendant’s home
  • (8) An officer told the defendant that he was free to leave and did not have to answer questions

Fifth Circuit

United States v. Cavazos, 668 F.3d 190, 194 (5th Cir. 2012):

Factors ultimately resulting in suppression:

  • (2) The defendant was separated from his family
  • (3) Over a dozen officers searched the defendant’s home
  • (4) Defendant was handcuffed
  • (4) The defendant was monitored while using the bathroom and while getting a snack and making a phone call
  • (5) The defendant was interrogated for at least one hour
  • (5) The interrogation occurred early in the morning

Factors ultimately outweighed:

  • (2) Interrogation occurred in defendant’s home
  • (4) The defendant was “free” to use the bathroom, get a snack, and make a phone call
  • (8) The defendant was told that the interview was “non-custodial”

Sixth Circuit

United States v. Cook, 824 F. Supp. 2d 776, 780 (N.D. Ohio 2011)

Factors ultimately resulting in suppression:

  • (3) Ten law enforcement officers were present
  • (4) Officers escorted the defendant to the restroom
  • (4) Some officers had their weapons drawn and wore bullet-proof vests
  • (5) Officers woke the defendant up at 7am
  • (7) The defendant was 19 years old, with no prior experience with the law
  • (8) Officers did not tell the defendant that he was free to go

Factors ultimately outweighed:

  • (1) An agent asked the defendant to accompany them voluntarily for a polygraph
  • (2) Interrogation occurred near the defendant’s home

United States v. Tummins, No. 3:10-CR-00009, 2011 WL 6819050, at *1 (M.D. Tenn. Oct. 24, 2011), rev’d, 517 F. App’x 342 (6th Cir. 2013) (Unpublished)

Factors ultimately resulting in suppression:

  • (3) Police-dominated environment
  • (4) Officers told the defendant where to go
  • (5) The defendant was questioned for two hours
  • (7) The defendant was upset and cried
  • (7) The officers used a harsh and accusatory tone

Factors ultimately outweighed:

  • (4) The defendant was not put in handcuffs
  • (4) The officers kept their guns holstered
  • (7) The officers wore plain clothes
  • (8) The officers told the defendant that he did not have to answer questions
  • (10) The defendant was not arrested later that day

United States v. Charbonneau, 979 F. Supp. 1177 (S.D. Ohio 1997)

Factors ultimately resulting in suppression:

  • (2) (4) Agents escorted the defendant to a police room in a back room of the airport
  • (3) Four agents surrounded the defendant
  • (5) The defendant was interrogated for over an hour
  • (5) (8) Agents had already seized the defendant’s computer and told him he was guilty
  • (5) Defendant had just gotten off of a plane late in the evening
  • (7) The defendant was tired and not used to being interrogated
  • (7) The defendant’s coworker thought the defendant was being attacked

Factors ultimately outweighed:

  • (8) Agents told the defendant that he was free to leave

Seventh Circuit

United States v. Slaight, 620 F.3d 816 (7th Cir. 2010)

Factors ultimately resulting in suppression:

  • (2) Officers drove the defendant to the police station
  • (2) Interrogation occurred in a small room with two officers
  • (2) (4) Officers kept the defendant locked alone in the room for forty minutes
  • (3) Nine officers broke into the defendant’s house
  • (4) Officers ordered the defendant (who was in bed and naked) to put his hands up
  • (4) Officers denied the defendant’s request to leave to smoke a cigarette
  • (4) Officers had pistols and rifles at the ready
  • (5) Defendant was questioned for over an hour
  • (5) The interrogation occurred early in the morning
  • (7) Defendant told the officers that he had no choice but to stay because they were going to arrest him anyway, and officers did not respond

Factors ultimately outweighed:

  • (1) Officers said that they did not command the defendant to come to the station
  • (7) Officers claimed that they planned to interview the defendant in his home, but the house had no natural light, smelled like cats, and was small
  • (8) Officers told the defendant that he was free to leave

United States v. Borostowski, 775 F.3d 851 (7th Cir. 2014)

Factors ultimately resulting in suppression:

  • (1) (7) The encounter was not voluntary
  • (2) (4) Defendant was confined in a small, crowded room
  • (3) There was a strong police presence
  • (4) The defendant was placed in handcuffs for a “while”
  • (4) Defendant had been restrained by a two-man guard
  • (5) The interrogation was long

Factors ultimately outweighed:

  • (2) Interrogation occurred in the defendant’s home
  • (7) The tone of the police’s questioning was not hostile or combative
  • (8) Defendant was told that he was not under arrest or in custody

Eighth Circuit

United States v. Chamberlain, 163 F.3d 499 (8th Cir. 1998)

Factors ultimately resulting in suppression:

  • (2) (5) Defendant was questioned in a secure area
  • (3) There was a police-dominated atmosphere (prison guards escorted the defendant, the interview conducted by DOC investigators, the defendant was transferred to a more confined situation as a result of the investigation)
  • (4) Defendant did not enter the interrogation of his own accord
  • (8) Defendant was not told that the questioning was voluntary or that he was free to leave (leaving would have violated prison rules)

Factors ultimately outweighed:

  • (6) Miranda warnings are not automatically required when questioning an inmate

 United States v. Merrell, 88 F. Supp. 3d 1017, 1027 (D. Minn. 2015), aff’d, 842 F.3d 577 (8th Cir. 2016)

Factors ultimately resulting in suppression:

  • (2) Defendant was separated from her children
  • (4) (2) Defendant was taken to the police station against her will
  • (4) Defendant was escorted by the police
  • (4) Defendant had her hands manipulated (physical restraint on movement)
  • (5) Defendant was confronted with images of child pornography
  • (8) Defendant was never informed that she was not under arrest and did not have to answer questions

Factors ultimately outweighed:

  • (10) The defendant was not arrested at the end of the interview

Ninth Circuit

United States v. Craighead, 539 F.3d 1073 (9th Cir. 2008):

Factors ultimately resulting in suppression:

  • (2) (5) Officers excluded non-law enforcement personnel from being present during the interrogation, despite their being in the home
  • (3) Eight law enforcement officers from three different agencies were present
  • (4) The exit was blocked
  • (4) The officers were armed
  • (5) The interview took place in a storage room in the back of the defendant’s house

Factors ultimately outweighed:

  • (8) Law enforcement told the defendant that he was not under arrest and that his statements were voluntary, and that he was free to leave
  • (9) The defendant was physically larger than the interrogators

 United States v. Brobst, 558 F.3d 982, 996 (9th Cir. 2009)

Factors ultimately resulting in suppression:

  • (1) The language that the officers used used to summon the defendant constituted a command and a show of force
  • (2) (5) Officers were already searching the defendant’s house while one officer waited for the defendant’s return
  • (5) Defendant was immediately confronted with evidence against him
  • (5) Officers had entered the defendant’s residence in his absence through an open window and were there waiting for him

Factors ultimately outweighed:

  • (2) Interrogation occurred in the defendant’s home
  • (4) Defendant was never handcuffed
  • (4) Defendant was not prevented from leaving
  • (5) The interrogation was only two minutes long
  • (8) Defendant was never told that he was under arrest
  • NOTE: In this case they found that the district court erred in denying motion to suppress, but found the error harmless, so ultimately did not suppress the statements

 United States v. Clymer, 524 F. App’x 354 (9th Cir. 2013) (Unpublished)

Factors ultimately resulting in suppression:

  • (3) Eleven federal and local law enforcement officers were present
  • (4) Officers ordered the defendant to the ground
  • (4) Officers forced the defendant to exit his house by crawling
  • (4) Defendant was handcuffed once outside of his house
  • (4) Defendant was detained in the police car for one hour
  • (4) Defendant was not permitted to move throughout his home
  • (4) Defendant was escorted to the restroom and was not allowed to close the door
  • (4) Officers had their weapons drawn
  • (5) Defendant was interrogated for at least 1.5 hours

Factors ultimately outweighed:

  • (2) Interrogation occurring in the defendant’s home

Tenth Circuit

United States v. Williamson, No. CRIM.A. 13-20011-01, 2014 WL 2533177, at *7 (D. Kan. June 5, 2014), aff’d, 859 F.3d 843 (10th Cir. 2017) 

Factors ultimately resulting in suppression:

  • (5) Defendant had just been arrested and was being transported from jail to federal court
  • (7) Detectives made encouraging remarks that transformed the exchange into an interrogation
  • (7) Detectives knew the defendant’s statement were being recorded and that the defendant did not

Factors ultimately outweighed:

  • (1) Defendant was the one who initially shifted the conversation topic

Eleventh Circuit

United States v. Westley, No. CR513-019, 2014 WL 3545071, at *4 (S.D. Ga. July 14, 2014) (Unpublished)

Factors ultimately resulting in suppression:

  • (4) Defendant was handcuffed for a brief period
  • (4) Defendant was moved throughout house
  • (4) Officers had guns drawn
  • (4) An officer pushed defendant into a chair while telling him to sit down
  • (5) Defendant was woken up by officers in his bedroom
  • (8) Defendant was not advised of Miranda rights prior to questioning at police station
  • (10) Defendant was transported to police station after initial interrogation

Factors ultimately resulting in no suppression:

  • (2) Initial questioning occurring in defendant’s house
  • (7) Conversational tone of interview

VOLUNTARINESS

When a person is in custody, they may waive their Fifth Amendment protections if their decision to do so is done “voluntarily, knowingly, and intelligently.”[23] The Government bears the burden of proving that a person’s waiver of their Miranda rights was both knowing and voluntary.[24] When reviewing a person’s decision to waive their rights, the court must examine “the surrounding circumstances and the entire course of police conduct with respect to the suspect.”[25] They must also consider the particular facts and circumstances of the case, “including the background, experience, and conduct of the accused.”[26]

Second Circuit

United States v. Plugh, 648 F.3d 118 (2d Cir. 2011): The defendant, a state corrections officer, signed a “waiver-of-rights” form, indicating a deliberate choice to speak with agents. The absence of threats or intimidation from officers reinforced the voluntary nature of the waiver.

  • Defendant signed an express “waiver-of-rights” form before making inculpatory statements
  • Defendant acted in a manner inconsistent with his exercise by choosing to speak with agents, therefore making a deliberate choice to waive rights
  • Defendant was familiar with his rights because of his experience as a state corrections officer
  • Officers did not threaten or intimidate the defendant

 

Third Circuit

United States v. Johnston, No. CR 2018-018, 2020 WL 758956, at *4 (D.V.I. Feb. 14, 2020) (Unpublished): The government failed to prove the Defendant was advised of Miranda rights before making a statement, challenging the knowing and voluntary nature of the waiver.

  • The government did not meet its burden of proving that the Defendant was advised of his Miranda rights before his statement, so there can be no knowing and voluntary waiver of Miranda rights

 

Sixth Circuit

The Sixth Circuit states that “courts consider the defendant’s age, education, intelligence, prior experience with the criminal justice system, the length and nature of the questioning, the advice regarding Miranda rights, and the us of physical punishment, such as deprivation of food or sleep” to determine whether a waiver was knowingly and intelligently made.[27] 

The Sixth Circuit has also established the following criteria for determining whether a statement was the result of coercion by law enforcement, all three of which must be satisfied to establish the existence of an involuntary statement due to coercion:[28]

  1. Whether the police activity was objectively coercive
  2. The coercion in question was sufficient to overbear the defendant’s will
  3. The alleged police misconduct was the crucial motivating factor in the defendant’s decision to offer the statement

United States v. Hayek, No. 2:18-CR-160, 2021 WL 3680024, at *7 (E.D. Tenn. June 28, 2021), report and recommendation adopted, No. 2:18-CR-160, 2021 WL 2856527 (E.D. Tenn. July 8, 2021) (Unpublished):

Knowingly and Intelligently Waive Rights

  • Defendant claims to have been under the influence of alcohol and NyQuil and was therefore unable to fully understand the rights he was waiving
  • Defendant was only 20 years old and did not have prior experience with the criminal justice system, but was in college and studying pre-law
  • Court found that the defendant did not exhibit slurred speech or any other physical signs of intoxication, the agents did not see open containers of alcohol or medicine bottles in the defendant’s room, defendant asked what his rights were, was advised of his Miranda rights, and waived them verbally and signed a written waiver
  • Defendant did not express any confusion about his rights or ask any questions, answered questions fine, and remained alert throughout the interview
  • Law enforcement’s testimony was credible and consistent with the interview recording

Voluntary Waiver of Rights

  • Defendant claims that any statement he gave resulted from coercion and duress because law enforcement threatened the immigration status of the defendant’s family if he did not give a statement, but Court did not find testimony to be credible
  • See above for defendant’s age, education, and intelligence
  • Defendant was not subjected to physical punishments or threats, denied any physical necessities, and the interview was not unduly lengthy
  • Agents did not raise their voices or speak harshly with the defendant
  • Officer did not work in immigration, did not specify that law enforcement would have to look through defendant’s family’s immigration papers if he refused to speak, only their “papers and devices”
  • No direct threats regarding immigration status or deportation were made, and defendant never expressed any concern over his family’s immigration status during the interview
  • Defendant’s voice did not indicate undue stress

 

Eighth Circuit

The Eighth Circuit has ruled that for a waiver of Miranda rights, the waiver must be “the product of a free and deliberate choice rather than intimidation, coercion, or deception.”[29] The waiver must also have been made with “a full awareness of both the nature of the right being abandoned and the consequences of the decision to abandon it.”[30] Each case must be decided by the totality of circumstances, which may include “the background, experience, and conduct of the [suspect].”[31]

 

United States v. Mees, No. 4:09CR00145ERW, 2009 WL 1657420, at *7 (E.D. Mo. June 10, 2009) (Unpublished): Miranda rights were read, the defendant expressed willingness to speak, and there was no evidence of intoxication or coercion, reinforcing the voluntary nature of the waiver.

  • Detective read defendant his Miranda rights, asked if defendant understood his rights, and defendant answered “yes”
  • Defendant indicated that he was willing to speak to the police
  • No evidence that defendant was under the influence of drugs or alcohol or affected by a mental infirmity
  • Officers did not threaten defendant or engage in any force against him to induce him to make a statement
  • Officers did not make any promises in exchange for statements

 

United States v. Bear, No. 3:14-CR-30122-RAL, 2015 WL 1969413, at *9 (D.S.D. May 1, 2015) (Unpublished): Miranda warnings, lack of coercion, and the defendant’s actions during the interview affirmed the voluntary nature of the statements.

  • Defendant’s statements were voluntary because of his receipt of Miranda warnings, lack of police coercion, and defendant’s background and conduct during the interview
  • Defendant was never subject to police overreaching, told the officers that he understood his rights, and signed a form stating that he waived them

 

Tenth Circuit

The Tenth Circuit has identified five factors to consider when weighing the voluntariness of an individual’s interaction with law enforcement:[10]

  1. The age, intelligence, and education of the defendant
  2. The length of detention
  3. The length and nature of the questioning
  4. Whether the defendant was advised of their constitutional rights
  5. Whether the defendant was subjected to physical punishment

The Government must prove that the defendant’s waiver was “the product of a free and deliberate choice rather than intimidation, coercion, or deception,” and that they understood both “the nature of the right being abandoned” and the “consequences of the decision to abandon it.”[11]

 

United States v. Laurezo, No. CR 18-3413 KG/CG, 2019 WL 1970882, at *6 (D.N.M. May 2, 2019), report and recommendation adopted as modified, No. CR 18-3413 KG, 2019 WL 2453822 (D.N.M. June 12, 2019) (Unpublished): The defendant, despite language concerns, knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily waived Miranda rights, considering factors like education, English proficiency, and the absence of physical punishment.

  • Defendant was in custody at the time of the interrogation, so for her statements to be admissible, she must have “knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently waived her Miranda rights”
  • Defendant was read and provided a written form explaining her Miranda rights, and she gave verbal and written confirmation
  • Defendant claims that because English was not her first language, she did not fully understand her rights
  • The Court found that the defendant was well educated and had “at least a rudimentary of the English language”
  • During the interview, the defendant expressed confusion, the interview lasted two hours and the tone was conversational, the defendant confirmed that she understood her rights on multiple occasions, was not subjected to physical punishment, defendant understood the officers’ intent to discuss their criminal investigation, and asked if she would need a lawyer
  • Defendant’s testimony indicated that she did not exercise her Miranda rights for reasons other than a lack of understanding of them
  • The Court found that the defendant knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily waived her Fifth Amendment rights, and denied her motion to suppress

[23] Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 444, 86 S. Ct. 1602, 1612, 16 L. Ed. 2d 694 (1966)

[24] North Carolina v. Butler, 441 U.S. 369, 373, 99 S. Ct. 1755, 1757, 60 L. Ed. 2d 286 (1979)

[25] Oregon v. Elstad, 470 U.S. 298, 318, 105 S. Ct. 1285, 1297, 84 L. Ed. 2d 222 (1985)

[26] United States v. Burson, 531 F.3d 1254, 1256 (10th Cir. 2008)

[27] United States v. Hampton, 572 F. App’x 430, 433 (6th Cir. 2014)

[28] United States v. Mahan, 190 F.3d 416, 422 (6th Cir. 1999); United States v. Johnson, 351 F.3d 254, 259 (6th Cir. 2003)

[29] United States v. Jones, 23 F.3d 1307, 1313 (8th Cir. 1994)

[30] United States v. Jones, 23 F.3d 1307, 1313 (8th Cir. 1994)

[31] United States v. Barahona, 990 F.2d 412, 418 (8th Cir. 1993)

[32] United States v. Carrizales-Toledo, 454 F.3d 1142, 1153 (10th Cir. 2006)

[33] United States v. Morris, 287 F.3d 985, 988 (10th Cir. 2002)

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