ISSUE OF CUSTODIAL INTERROGATION 5
Issueof Custodial Interrogation
Issueof Custodial Interrogation
Theimportance of law enforcement agencies cannot be understated as faras the maintenance of law and order is concerned. Indeed, it isacknowledged that the achievement of this goal is dependent onensuring that wrongdoers are apprehended and punished in line withthe law. This requires that they be taken through the judicialprocess where evidence will be presented and the defense allowed tomake a plea. However, recent times have seen a large proportion ofnumerous convictions. One of the major contributing factors for thehigh percentage of the convictions is the admissibility of false orfaulty confessions at trial. Essentially, it has been imperative thatthe individuals in custody have their interrogation and confessionsofficially taken through recording them.
Inthe case of Sally Martin, the major question is whether the statementthat she blurted prior to being taken into custody or being taken tothe interrogation room where the confession would have been caught ontape. While there may be differing opinions, the statement would beadmissible as a confession rather than being suppressed. Indeed, itis worth noting that in the course of being arrested, suspects thatmay be subject to custodial interrogation are usually warned thatthey retain the right to remain silent and that any statements thatthey make can and would be used as evidence against them(Berk-Seligson,2009).It is required that they be informed of their rights to an attorneyof their choice and if they cannot afford one, they will have anotherappointed for them before questioning. Unless they are informed aboutthis and given these warnings, the evidence that is obtained in thecourse of the interrogation cannot be used against the accused(Inbau,2013).This is in line with Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S. Ct. 1602, 16 L. Ed. 2d 694 (1966), where the United States Supreme Courtoutlined these as the standards by which the law enforcement officershave to abide when trying to interrogate the suspects that they areholding in custody.
However,in recognition of the effect of flawed confessions on the criminaljustice system’s integrity, courts, legislators and policedepartments have necessitated that interrogations be recorded.Indeed, some states have gone as far as mandating the recording ofinterrogations via statutory changes while others have put in placeconditions for the same through court rules (Inbau,2013).However, given the fact that Martins was already in the police carwhen she blurted out about the firearm, the statement remainsadmissible even if it was not recorded or videotaped by the policeofficer. According to Stansbury v. California 511 U.S. 318, 114 S. Ct. 1526, 128 L. Ed. 2d 293 (1994), it was determined by the CaliforniaSupreme Court that the statements that the suspect makes prior toeven being placed in formal custody may be used in the court trial. Asimilar case applies to the statements that the suspect made in theinterrogation room (Berk-Seligson,2009).It may be noted that the statements that she made were already beingvideotaped, and she already knew that she was in the interview roomwhere she was supposed to be questioned. However, it may beacknowledged that she underlined the notion that she was alreadyconversant with her rights and even waives the right to read them.This essentially cements her case and makes the statements that shemade in the interview room admissible rather than being suppressed(Inbau,2004).
Evenin the interview room, is imperative that Quickdraw provides anoverview of the rights to which Martin’s is entitled. These includeher right to remain silent as her statements can be used against herin a court of law, her right to ask for a lawyer of her choice in thecourse of the interview or be assigned one in case she cannot affordone, as well as her right to stop the interview at any point (Inbau,2004).The invocation of these rights actually does affect the admissibilityof any statements that she had made prior to the statement of thesame. Given that she was already in the custody of the lawenforcement officers, it goes without saying that she should havebeen informed about the rights prior to the interview. As the SupremeCourt in Stainsbury v. California (1994) noted, the statements that asuspect makes prior to being made aware of the rights by the lawenforcement officer would not be admissible as they would only amountto a subjective view of the law enforcement officer regarding whetherthe individual being interrogated would be a suspect (Berk-Seligson,2009).The court also stated that the initial determination pertaining towhether the suspect is in custody would be dependent on theinterrogation circumstances rather than the subjective views that theinterrogation officers or even the individual being questionedharbors. The court also stated that in instances where the officers’beliefs and knowledge is communicated to the suspect, the beliefs orknowledge would only be relevant to the extent that the person gaugesthe magnitude of her freedom of action.
Berk-Seligson,S. (2009). Coercedconfessions: The discourse of bilingual police interrogations.Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Inbau,F. E. (2004). Criminalinterrogation and confessions.Boston: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.
Inbau,F. E. (2013). Criminalinterrogation and confessions.Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.