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Chapter 12 Obtaining Statements and Confessions for use as Evidence
Corpus Delicti Rule • In using a confession as evidence, corroborating evidence must also be provided to prove the corpus delicti • That is, that a crime was committed and the defendant is culpable. • This requirement originated in England and was developed solely “to protect the defendant against the possibility of fabricated testimony which might wrongfully establish the crime and the perpetrator.”
The federal courts and some state courts have a modified version of the rule called the “trustworthiness doctrine.” • The corroborating evidence must establish trustworthiness of a confession.
Requirement that confessions and incriminating statements be voluntary • It has never been held that interrogations by police are unconstitutional, per se. The voluntariness test used today requires that confessions and admissions by a suspect must be voluntarily and freely given. • If the police or a prosecutor obtain a confession or an incriminating admission by means that overbears the will of the accused, that statement or confession cannot be used as evidence.
Totality-of-the-Circumstances Test • In determining whether a confession or a statement may be used as evidence, courts use the totality-of-the-circumstances test. • In looking at the “whole picture,” all of the following factors are considered: • Suspect vulnerabilities • Interrogating factors • Place of questioning • Use of threats, processes, deceptions, lies, or trickery
The use of deceptions or lies does not automatically make a confession involuntary. • Explicit promise of leniency in exchange for a confession is, however, usually considered an involuntary confession.
The Miranda Requirements • The Miranda requirements were established by the U.S. Supreme Court as part of the procedural safeguards. • They offer protection of the 5th Amendment right to not incriminate oneself, and . . . • The 6th Amendment right to counsel
The Miranda Requirements: • The suspect must be told of his or her right to remain silent, • That anything he or she says may be used against him or her in a court of law, • That he or she is entitled to the presence of an attorney, and • If he or she can not afford an attorney, one will be appointed to represent him or her.
When Miranda Warnings are Not Required • Miranda warnings are not required if the person is not in custody. • Miranda is not required when a person volunteers information. • This includes spontaneous declarations. • General on-the-scene questioning as to facts surrounding a crime, or other general questioning of citizens in the fact-finding process, do not require a Miranda admonishment.
When Miranda Warnings are Not Required (Cont.) • Miranda is not required for investigative detentions (stop and inquiry) based upon reasonable suspicion to believe that the person is committing, has committed, or is about to commit a crime. • Miranda is not required in “ordinary traffic stops.” • Routine booking questions are exempt from Miranda’s coverage. • The Miranda warnings are not imposed upon private persons who ask questions.
When Miranda Warnings are Not Required (Cont.) • Miranda warnings are not required when border agents question aliens seeking admission to the U.S.
When Miranda Warnings are Not Required (Cont.) • The Miranda requirements have been held not to be applicable in the following cases: • To offenders who are on probation or parole, such as sex offenders, etc., who are required to “be truthful” or risk revocation. • Undercover officers who are dealing with suspects and informants • Probation or parole officer
In U.S. v. Gonzales-Lauren, the court held that investigators did not violate the defendant’s Fifth Amendment rights when they intentionally delayed giving Miranda warnings until after showing all the evidence linking the individual to murder.
Public Safety Rule • NY v. Quarles • “Where’s the gun?” case • Officers do not need to admonish in cases of urgent public safety, and . . . • The statements can be used!
“Rescue Doctrine” • Similar to the “public safety” doctrine • “Where’s the victim?” cases • Focus is to save life, or “rescue” a hostage, etc.
When Does A Person Have A Right To An Attorney? • At any time, but only two situations where the government cannot proceed unless a person has an attorney or has waived the right to one: 1. During custodial interrogations 2. After formally charged with or indicted for a crime(s)
Practices Required by State Law, Court Decision or Established Practices for Right to an Attorney • Persons held by law enforcement typically are allowed at least one phone call, usually to secure counsel. • An attorney may be present at a bail hearing or a lineup appearance. • An attorney’s presence may be requested during a grand jury hearing, but the attorney is not allowed in the hearing chambers.
Right to an Attorney (Cont.) • An individual has the right to an attorney once a criminal case commences, even if no decision has been made to prosecute (Rothgery v. Gillespie County, 2008).
Silence, Miranda, and Impeachment • The prosecution cannot later use the fact of invoking the Fifth Amendment as proof of substantive guilt or for purposes of impeachment, because • “Drawing meaning from silence” is a violation of due process. • See U.S. v. Caruto, 9th Cir. 2008.
“Inevitable Discovery” Doctrine • See Brewer v. Williams, 430 U.S. 387, page 217 of your text, also referred to as the “Christian Burial” case. • The text doesn’t include the “rest of the story” that, although the court rejected the evidence obtained by the police questioning, since search parties were closing in on where the victim was found (dead), her body would have “inevitably” been discovered. . . . • As a result, her body and other evidence was used against Williams.
The Massiah Limitation • Once someone “invokes” their Sixth Amendment right to an attorney, the police cannot violate that right by continuing to question them. • Following two cases: • Massiah v. United States (1964) • Brewer v. Williams (1977)
The Bruton Rule • A Bruton violation occurs if a confession by one suspect is used against another suspect unless the second suspect has an opportunity to cross-examine the source of the accusation against him or her. • This is usually found in cases where one or the other of the suspects is in jail or prison.
Alternatives to the Bruton Rule: • Try to get one of the suspects to become a state witness and incriminate him or herself and the other suspects. • If the suspect does not want to become a state witness, drop all charges against the others and proceed to trial against that person.
Polygraph Test Results and Voice Stress Analyzers as Evidence • Persons charged or suspected of a crime cannot be ordered to take a polygraph test (lie detector) or VSA. • Why? • Because such compulsion would violate their Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. • Nor does a defendant charged with a crime have a right to take a polygraph or VSA test to prove his or her innocence.