Is An Accusation of Carrying Drugs Coupled With Miranda Warnings Legal ?

In United States v. Poitier, 818 F.2d 679 (8th Cir. 1987), two agents of the federal Drug Enforcement Agency approached the travelers on suspicion of carrying illegal drugs. The travelers agreed to move to a less crowded area. After the agent questioning the appellant received answers inconsistent with those given by her companion, the agent informed her that she was suspected of carrying illegal drugs and advised her of her Miranda rights. The appellant then admitted to trafficking in cocaine. Id. at 681. On appeal, the Eighth Circuit held that although the initial encounter was consensual, "the accusation, coupled with the Miranda warnings, created a sufficient show of authority to effectively restrain Poitier's freedom of movement." Id. at 683. The encounter was therefore transformed into a Terry-style (Terry v. Ohio) investigatory stop requiring reasonable suspicion of criminal activity before the seizure could legally occur. Id.