Can a Parolee Be Arrested for Parole Violation Without Being Advised About His Miranda Rights ?
In People v. English, 73 N.Y.2d 20, 537 N.Y.S.2d 987, 534 N.E.2d 1195, a parolee was arrested for a parole violation by his parole officer and thereafter questioned about an unrelated burglary.
He was not Mirandized by his parole officer.
He then admitted his involvement in the burglary and his parole officer contacted the police.
Once the police arrived they Mirandized parolee/defendant.
He waived his rights, and again confessed to the burglary, orally and in writing.
After a Huntley hearing, the trial court held, first, that parolee/defendant's statement to his parole officer was inadmissible at trial as the result of the parole officer's failure to Mirandize him prior to questioning him about the burglary, and second, that parolee/defendant's confessions to the Police must be suppressed because those later statements, although made after Miranda warnings had been given by the police, were the product of a course of continuing law enforcement conduct without a break in interrogation sufficient to attenuate them from the earlier questioning.
The Appellate Division affirmed (138 A.D.2d 951.)
In affirming the lower courts, the Court of Appeals held that the parole officer's actions were the functional equivalent of those of a police officer in that the potential for a coercion was as great as that which inheres in custodial interrogation by a police officer and that "Miranda warnings were required to dispel that potential coercion in order for defendant's statement to be admissible in a criminal trial" (see also, People ex rel. Maiello v. New York State Bd of Parole, 65 N.Y.2d 145, 490 N.Y.S.2d 742, 480 N.E.2d 356 (noting the differences between a parole revocation proceeding and a criminal proceeding.))
The distinction to be drawn is between "'the sort of incommunicado, police dominated atmosphere of custodial interrogation and overbearing of the subject's will at which Miranda was aimed,' and questioning by a probation officer directed at helping probationers rehabilitate themselves" (73 N.Y.2d at 23.)
The Court then went on to further hold that parolee/defendant's statements to the police must be suppressed, stating:
... we cannot accept the People's contention that the failure to advise defendant of his Miranda rights was proper, and that no presumption of compulsion should be drawn from it. Having rejected that claim, we are bound by the undisturbed finding of the trial court that defendant's subsequent attenuated from the first, unwarned statement to dispel the coercive effect of the earlier questioning (see, People v. Chapple, 38 N.Y.2d 112, 378 N.Y.S.2d 682, 341 N.E.2d 243.) Indeed, before us the People do not even dispute the fact that the questioning of defendant was virtually uninterrupted.
In People v. Parker, 57 N.Y.2d 815, 455 N.Y.S.2d 600, 441 N.E.2d 1118, affg for reasons stated in 82 A.D.2d 661, the Court held that in an appropriate circumstance, a "parole" officer also may assume the role of a law enforcement agent implicating Miranda - the distinction being between proceedings within the parole system and criminal proceedings outside the parole system when the parole officer, in effect, acts as an agent of the State by gathering information and transferring it to the District Attorney as the foundation for the prosecution of a crime.
In this regard, the Appellate Division stated in its opinion:
The parolee is thus thrust on the tines of a dilemma if, on the one hand, he must truthfully state the circumstances underlying his arrest or face the consequence of the revocation of parole, and, on the other hand, risk conviction because his statements may be used as evidence against him in a prosecution based on the arrest. In this difficult aspect of the relationship between them, the parole officer necessarily assumes the role of a law enforcement agent.
The reciprocal obligations thus arising from the relationship of parole have been said to exact "heavy psychological pressures' on a parolee to answer inquiries made by his parole officer, rendering inadmissible responsive incriminating statements made by a defendant to his parole officer in the absence of Miranda warnings. the distinction must be properly drawn between routine interviews required by parole, not implicating the need for Miranda warnings, and statements extracted by the parole officer and then offered against the parolee outside the structure of the parole system, as in a trial held on subsequent criminal charges against a parolee, necessitating Miranda warnings. (82 A.D.2d at 665-66.)