Case Level Remedies

Missouri v. Seibert

542 U.S. 600 (2004).


Whether a post-warning statement can come in if the officers already obtained a confession pre-warning.


“Whether the Miranda warnings delivered mid-stream could have been effective enough to accomplish their object.” According to the concurrence, if the conduct is calculated to undermine Miranda, then the statement is out.


The second statement is also inadmissible, reversed.


Seibert’s son had palsy and died. Fearing that bruises on the body would create a negative impression during any investigation, Seibert attempted to pose the body as dying in an accident with another mentally ill teenager staying with them (to give the impression that the son was accompanied). They placed both individuals in a vehicle and lit it on fire, resulting in the death of the second teenager.

During an interrogation at the police department, officers deliberately withhold a Miranda warning until Seibert gave a confession. Following the confession and a short break, officers gave a Miranda warning, which was waived, and proceeded to extract the same confession. At the suppression hearing, the first statement was excluded but the second statement was admitted.


The purpose of Miranda warning is to inform a defendant of their rights and allow them the capacity to use those rights if they so wish. Here, this method of interrogation was deliberately designed to work around those Miranda rights by coaxing a statement pre-warning, then—as the subject is exhasuted from the first round—give a warning which is likely to be waived.

This case is distinguishable from Oregon v. Elstad, 470 U.S. 298 (1985), where an officer obtained a statement in the home of the subject, almost accidentally, as he attempted to explain to the subject’s mother why he was going to be taken into custody. Later, the subject fully waived the Miranda warning before giving a confession. In that case, the first statement was excluded, but the second statement was admitted.

Here, the questioning occurred in the police department after only a short break, and the questioning was closely related. Everything here was designed to work around the standard, instead of an unintentional good faith mistake about when to give the warning.

The O’conner dissent then argues that Elstad is good law and the majority didn’t follow it.

State v. Smith

834 S.W.2d 915 (Tenn. 1992).

After pulling over Jones and failing to produce registration, she was put in the back of the police vehicle while registration was being looked up. Smith was Jones’s passenger and the officers continued to question both Jones and Smith about the ownership of the vehicle and whether there are any illegal materials in the drugs. After Smith confirms drugs are in the car, a search discovers the material. After the discovery, Jones and Smith are read their Miranda rights, transported to the station, and read their rights again before they make a full confession. The question is, is the second confession out? Under Tennessee, this was admissible because they were deemed separate statements. Applying the federal rule, the first statement (1) may not even be in custody, so there is no Miranda violation; (2) this case appears to be more like Elstad instead of Seibert.

DeShields v. State

534 A.2d 630 (Del. 1987).

After DeShields invoked his Miranda rights, he was pressured to talk and confessed to a killing during a robbery gone wrong. He admitted that items from the robbery had been discarded in a ditch. The officers found the items in the ditch that linked DeShields to the murder. His testimony was not admissible (violation of Miranda), but the items discovered were admissible (due to inevitable discovery). Under U.S. v. Patane, 542 U.S. 630 (2004), physical evidence is admitted regardless.

Additional Notes

The default remedy for a Miranda violation is that the statement and the “fruit of the poisonous tree” is inadmissible as evidence. However, there are exceptions including (1) Elstad with Seibert limits; (2) impeachment of the defendant using the defendant’s voluntary statements under a coercion test; (3) physical evidence disclosed in a statement as long as the statement was voluntary (see Patane).

Societal Impacts

Saul M. Kassin et. al., Police Interviewing and Interrogation: A Self-Report Survey of Police Practices and Beliefs, 31 Law and Human Behavior 381 (2007). This article discusses past empirical research on the effects of Miranda and compares that information to studies from self-reported officers. Specifically, the research pre-Miranda discovered:

  1. More than 80% of individuals waive their Miranda rights.
  2. Police believe they are better at detecting lies than they actually can.
  3. Normal interrogations are shorter while interrogations producing false confessions are longer.
  4. Individuals generally confess around 55–65%

Based on the research conducted in this article (post-Miranda):

  1. Similar rates for waiver (80%) and whether the police believe they are better at detecting lies than they actually are.
  2. Innocent suspects provide incriminating statements about 25% of the time.
  3. Individuals provide general incriminating statements about 68% of the time.

Essentially, it appears Miranda had a minimal impact on the effectiveness of obtaining confessions through interrogation.


Memorandum from James M. Cole, Deputy Attorney General of the United States: Policy Concerning Electronic Recording of Statements (May 12, 2014). Essentially, if the subject is in a place of detention, where there is recording devices, and the subject hasn’t gone to court yet, then there is a presumption the interview is going to be recorded. If the subject doesn’t want to make a recorded statement, then the recording is not required.


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.

Will Laursen

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