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Home > Blog > Criminal Defense > What is Custodial Interrogation?
Feb 20, 2020

What is Custodial Interrogation?

Any situation in which you are interacting with police officers can be at least a little scary and intimidating. Chances are, this is not a regular occurrence for you, and you may not know exactly what your rights are in regards to your freedom to walk away from the authorities. It is within your rights, as affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court, that you are required to be read your Miranda Rights before you are subjected to custodial interrogation. 

Custodial interrogation is, essentially, a situation in which you have been deprived of a significant amount of freedom of action. If you are handcuffed and arrested, then that is a clear indication that you are in law enforcement custody. Other times, it’s not as clear. This blog will take a look at some factors that courts look at to determine if someone was in custody while being interrogated. This matters because if you were not read your Miranda Rights while in custody, then statements you made may not end up being admissible in court. 

  • Did the police make it clear that the interview was voluntary? Whether or not the authorities verbally clarified the interrogation as optional in their statements to you is a significant factor in determining custodial interrogation.
  • Did you have freedom of movement, during and after interrogation? Another aspect that goes to determining whether or not questioning is considered custodial is the ability for you to move around. Having on shackles or handcuffs, or being locked in a room, is a factor that would likely go in favor of deciding that the interrogation was indeed custodial.
  • What was the setting of the interrogation? The level of familiarity you had with the exact location of your questioning is something a court would scrutinize in determining whether or not custodial interrogation took place. The police station or the back of a police car is almost always a more coercive environment than, say, the front porch of your home.
  • How was the interrogation initiated? A police officer approaching you and forcefully requesting to come with him to another location would certainly suggest custodial interrogation. On the other hand, your approaching an officer for initial contact would suggest otherwise.

Why It Matters To You

In the investigation of a crime, police will gather evidence and speak to suspects and persons of interest. If police want to effect a situation in which someone being questioned is compelled to answer questions, as opposed to merely being asked, then officers must advise individuals of their rights. If it turns out that you were not given your Miranda warning before being subjected to custodial interrogation, then statements you made are usually not admissible.

However, there are some exceptions to this rule. To know whether or not your interrogation was handled properly by law enforcement, reach out to The Maine Criminal Defense Group today to get started with a pre-consultation into your case.

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