Chapter 12

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
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
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
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
 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
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
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
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”
 “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
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
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.
 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.