Massiah v. United States

377 U.S. 201 (1964).

Officers placed a radio transmitter in the car of a friend (who was acting with the police) of Massiah. The purpose was to gain additional evidence on Massiah (which the obtained), who previously had an indictment and an attorney appointed.

Although the testimony obtained was not coerced, this was a violation of the Sixth Amendment violation of the right to counsel because the questioning occurred post-indictment.

Escobedo v. Illinois

378 U.S. 478 (1964).

Escobedo was prevented from consulting with his attorney as he was being interrogated. Another defendant was sent into the interrogation to confront him about the crime.

Again, the Sixth Amendment applied here. This is a pre-indictment questioning that is a violation because the defendant was in a “critical stage.”


Miranda v. Arizona

384 U.S. 436 (1966).

[T]he persecution may not use statements, whether exculpatory or inculpatory, stemming from custodial interrogation of the defendant unless it demonstrates the use of procedural safeguards effective to secure the privilege against self-incrimination . . . . Prior to any questions, 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, ether retained or appointed.

The basis of this holding is the Fifth Amendment


Miranda’s rights were not afforded at trial, reversed.


Miranda was arrested at his home and taken into custody for questioning about kidnap and rape. Miranda was told that he could have an attorney before the interrogation. After confessing orally, Miranda signed a statement. The paper listed that Miranda had full legal knowledge of his rights when he made the statement. Both the oral confession and written statements were admitted at trial.


The Court begins by describing techniques utilized by the police during interrogations, which encourage the police to talk to the subject as guilty, and work to discourage the subject from invoking their rights.


Right to remain silent: It is important to inform the individual who may not know their rights. This is an absolute prerequisite to overcome the inherent pressures from the interrogation atmosphere.

Anything you say can be used against you: Because you have the right to remain silent, it informs the subject that further speech may harm you. In other words, it is telling them the consequences of failure to remain silent.

Right to consult and have an attorney present: This is a right where the subject has an advocate, some additional support system, along their side. Additionally, an attorney present may stop coercion, provide counsel during the questioning, and testify to coercion if present.

Right to have an attorney provided if unable to afford one: This right is necessary because the vast majority of those subject to police coercive interrogative techniques are those who are unable to afford an attorney.


If the subject invokes their rights, then the questioning stops. However, if the subject waives their rights, then the question can continue. Again, silence about the waiver is not to be presumed; the burden is on the state to show that silence was a waiver.


Harlan states that this right is not supported constitutionally by the Fifth Amendment. Instead, the only test should be coercion, was the testimony given voluntarily?

White argues that waiver here is not a good solution because the waiver may be coerced as well (being obtained in a coercive environment).

Additional Notes

Considering Massiah and EscobedoMiranda could have been a Sixth Amendment right, but the Court still saw the need for police activity and framed it as a Fifth Amendment issue.

Was Miranda a liberal or conservative position? This opinion appears liberal because there is a desire for attorney involvement early, focuses on individual rights, and focuses on pragmatic—rather than textual—constitutional interpretation. On the other hand, this opinion appears conservative because it still allows confessions by focusing on the Fifth rather than Sixth Amendment analysis and provided an easy formula for admission.

Dickerson v. United States

530 U.S. 428 (2000).

There was a statute in 1968 that came out and stated that voluntariness is the only test to admit confessions (no need for a Miranda warning). In the case, the confessions were not coerced but there was no Miranda warning.

The majority said that the Miranda warning is constitutionally mandated, so must be given even if Congress disagrees. The end result: Miranda is not going anywhere.

“Custody” Requirement

State v. Elmarr

181 P.3d 1157 (Colo. 2008).


Whether Elmarr was in custody.


If in custody, then the Miranda rights need to be read.

A suspect in custody when their “freedom of action is curtailed to the degree associated with formal arrest.” This is an objective test that considers:

  • Time
  • Place
  • Purpose of interregation
  • Who is present
  • Tone of voice of the interrogation
  • Response to the suspect’s answers
  • Whether the subject is free to leave
  • etc. (age is not a factor)

Finding that there was custody at one point will extend to the entire police interaction.


Officers arrived at Elmarr’s home to inform him that his ex-wife had been found dead the day before. At this time, Elmarr said he had seen his wife the day before she disappeared. As a result of this, Elmarr was invited to come to the police station. During the drive, Elmarr stated he was not entirely truthful. Once making it to the station, Elmarr was taken into the station through a private entrance, searched, and asked if he would talk to the police. Elmarr was then questioned, which atmosphere became more aggressive over time. After requesting an attorney and asking when, Elmarr was asked to take a polygraph and take a photo. After about two hours, Elmarr was free to go home.

About 20 years later, Elmarr was charged for the murder of his ex-wife.


Using the totality of the circumstances, Elmarr was in custody and should have had his rights read to him. He was taken through a private entrance, in the back of the police car, questioned aggressively, and kept for a while after an attorney was requested.

According to the dissent, Elmarr was in a stop, not custody. Again, if you look at all the factors, all those things are natural experiences. In other words, everyone in the station would be in custody.

Additional Notes

Consensual police interviews are not custodial. See Beheler, 463 U.S. 1121 (1983).

Custody is somewhere between a “stop” and an “arrest.”

State v. Turmel

838 A.2d 1279 (N.H. 2003).

Turmel was pulled over after he was observed with illegal drugs. He was asked about the drugs when he responded “yes” before he was put in the back of a cop car while the officers searched the car.

This was a stop, but not within custody, so there was no need to read the Miranda rights. See Berkeley v. McCarty, 468 U.S. 420 (1984).

State v. Dyer

513 N.W.2d 316 (Neb. 1994).

Officers responded to an emergency call to the Dyer’s residence. After Mrs. Dyer was removed to receive medical aid, Mr. Dyer admitted to hitting Mrs. Dyer. When Mr. Dyer attempted to go to the back room and indicated that there would be gunfire if anyone tried to see him. The officer stopped him from going to the back room.

The defendant was in custody because the “effect on the suspect” because his desire to go away demonstrates he felt that he was in custody. Although this is a close case, it demonstrates that more warnings is better.

“Interrogation” Requirement

Rhode Island v. Innis

446 U.S. 291 (1980).


Whether the comments made by the officers were considered an interrogation.


Interregation is defined as:

  1. Express questioning to the subject
  2. “Words or actions on the part of the police . . . that the police should know are reasonably likely to elicit an incriminating response from the suspect.” Functional equivalent of express questioning.

This second prong focuses, not on the intent of the police, but on the potential susceptibility of a defendant (is the defendant anxious, disorientated, upset, etc.).


This was not an interrogation, affirmed.


A taxicab driver informed the officers that he had been robbed with a sawed off shotgun and identified Innis as the individual. When the officers found Innis, he did not have a sawed off shotgun. After giving a Miranda warning and requesting an attorney, Innis was put in the back of the police car to be taken to the station. On the way, two officers talked to one another about the search for the weapon. They said it would be a shame if a handicapped little girl found the gun (being in a school area) and accidentally killed herself. At these words, Innis asked the officers to turn the car around and revealed the location of the gun to prevent any little girls from getting hurt.


Applying the rule to the facts, there was no express question asked, so the first prong does not work. The second prong does not work either because there was no outside evidence to the police that Innis would be susceptible to humanitarian moral strings being tugged on. He was not upset, anxious, or disorientated.

In dissent, Marshall agrees with the rule but responds it was misapplied to Innis. There is no other interpretation of the police statements where they do not influence Innis to speak.

Additionally, Stevens argues that any speech by the police that is the equivalent of a question should be considered an interrogation. Interpretation otherwise would result in the police setting traps and getting around the questioning simply by phrasing their “question” in a “statement” format instead. Further, even with the rule articulated by the majority, Stevens says the application was incorrect (see Marshall’s dissent).

Additional Notes

There are three main exceptions to the Innis rule:

  1. Routine booking questions. If the officer is asking standard booking questions, then there is no need to read Miranda rights. Pennsylvania v. Muniz, 496 U.S. 582 (1990).
  2. Interrogations by undercover cops. Miranda was all about coercion at the station so undercover questioning does not cover those discussions. Illinois v. Perkins, 496 U.S. 292 (1990).
  3. Public safety. New York v. Quarles, 467 U.S. 649 (1984). Could Innis have been decided with this principle in mind? Possibly, but Quarles was decided four years later.

Commonwealth v. Diaz

661 N.E.2d 1326 (Mass. 1996).

A suspect was being fingerprinted when he exclaimed the process would incriminate him. When asked, “why?” the suspect admitted to holding the gun. All this was done before Miranda rights were provided.

This case is an example of an express question but it was done during routine booking practices. So, who wins? Massachusetts here said this was not a custodial interrogation requiring a Miranda warning, because the initial statement was spontaneous and unprovoked and the question was a natural response.

Commonwealth v. Sepulveda

855 A.2d 783 (Pa. 2004).

The officers received a 911 call stating that a woman was dragged into the neighbor’s house. When the officers knocked on the door, they noticed blood and arrested the subject. Before giving a Miranda warning, the officers asked, “Where is she.” In response, the subject said, “I shot them.”

Again, this is an express question but it was done for public safety. Statements are not suppressed.

Form of the Warning

Miranda does not provide the precise language for informing a subject of their rights.


The content contained in this article may contain inaccuracies and is not intended to reflect the opinions, views, beliefs, or practices of any academic professor or publication. Instead, this content is a reflection on the author’s understanding of the law and legal practices.