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The famous Miranda Rights decision is little understood both in Colorado and across the country. Miranda warnings must be given when…
(1) the suspect has been arrested and
(2) the suspect is going to be interrogated (questioned).
If a suspect is NOT in custody when he or she gives a confession or otherwise makes incriminating statements, he or she need NOT be “Mirandized” and a waiver of the Miranda warnings need not be obtained.
Almost all questioning of a suspect – other than identification – is classified as interrogation.
Miranda v. Arizona – the Miranda decision protects a defendant’s Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. It requires the police to provide an advisement before custodial interrogation can take place.
A suspect is in custody for purposes of Miranda if:
“under the totality of the circumstances, a reasonable person in the defendant’s position would consider himself to be deprived of his freedom of action to the degree associated with a formal arrest.”
“Under the Fourth Amendment a seizure occurs when “a reasonable person would not have felt ‘free to leave’ or otherwise terminate an encounter with law enforcement.”
There are two kinds of “custody” under these two amendments. Custody for the purposes of the Miranda case is much narrower than what constitutes a “seizure” under the Fourth Amendment.
Even though a person may be ‘seized’ under the Fourth Amendment, this does not necessarily mean that the suspect is ‘in custody’ for purposes of Miranda.”
In determining whether a defendant is in custody – trial courts in Colorado apply the following non-exclusive factors, no one is completely conclusive – they are all balanced in the analysis:
(1) the time, place, and purpose of the encounter;
(2) the persons present during the interrogation;
(3) the words spoken by the officer to the defendant;
(4) the officer’s tone of voice and general demeanor;
(5) the length and mood of the interrogation;
(6) whether any limitation of movement or other form of restraint was placed on the defendant during the interrogation;
(7) the officer’s response to any questions asked by the defendant;
(8) whether directions were given to the defendant during the interrogation; and
(9) the defendant’s verbal or nonverbal response to such directions.
The Miranda custody determination is based upon an objective reasonable person standard.
This is an objective test – so the thoughts or views of the officers or the suspect himself are not irrelevant.”
If a person’s freedom is restrained by police at the scene of a crime by requiring the person to sit down – that kind of police officer’s direction to stay put does not always equal restraint on a defendant’s freedom of action to the degree associated with a formal arrest.
A defendant is not in custody after officers pat the person down, check their identification, and ask them to remain still before questioning them. Even if a person is not free to leave – if they are not subject to physical restraint and they are questioned “in a neutral area” such as the curb in front of their home they may not be “in custody” for the purposes of Miranda.
A person may not be “in custody” under Miranda until they are formally arrested. In a 2014 decision by the Colorado Supreme Court agreed, the Court found that a defendant was not in custody for the purposes of Miranda until he was formally arrested and read his Miranda rights.
The standard for custody for Miranda purposes is different than the seizure standard under the Fourth Amendment.
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