Failure to Give Miranda Warnings When Needed

In Oregon v. Elstad (1985) 470 U.S. 298, the Supreme Court addressed the issue of "whether an initial failure of law enforcement officers to administer the warnings required by Miranda, without more, 'taints' subsequent admissions made after a suspect has been fully advised of and has waived his Miranda rights." (Id. at p. 300.) In Elstad, the defendant was implicated in a burglary. (Ibid.) Two officers went to his home with a warrant for his arrest. (Ibid.) His mother led the officers to his room, where they found him and asked him accompany them into the living room. (Ibid.) One officer asked the defendant's mother to step in the kitchen, where he explained they had a warrant for her son's arrest. (Id. at pp. 300-301.) The other officer sat down in the living room with the defendant. (Id. at p. 301.) He asked the defendant if he knew why they were there. (Ibid.) The defendant stated he had no idea why they were there. (Ibid .) When asked, the defendant admitted he knew a person by the name of Gross and then added he heard there had been a robbery at the Gross residence. (Ibid.) When the officer stated he believed the defendant was involved in that incident, the defendant stated: " 'Yes, I was there.' " (Ibid.) The officers then escorted the defendant to the back of their patrol car and transported him to the Sheriff's headquarters. (Ibid.) About one hour later, they all sat in one officer's office and he advised the defendant of his Miranda rights. (Ibid.) The defendant waived his Miranda rights and gave the officers a full statement admitting his involvement in the burglary. (Ibid.) In a nonjury trial, the trial court excluded the defendant's unwarned statement at his home, but admitted his statement at the Sheriff's headquarters, finding it was voluntarily given after he was advised of and waived his Miranda rights. (Id. at p. 302.) The court found him guilty of burglary. (Ibid.) In Elstad, the United States Supreme Court stated: "It is an unwarranted extension of Miranda to hold that a simple failure to administer the warnings, unaccompanied by any actual coercion or other circumstances calculated to undermine the suspect's ability to exercise his free will, so taints the investigatory process that a subsequent voluntary and informed waiver is ineffective for some indeterminate period. Though Miranda requires that the unwarned admission must be suppressed, the admissibility of any subsequent statement should turn in these circumstances solely on whether it is knowingly and voluntarily made." (Elstad, supra, at p. 309.) The court concluded: "Absent deliberately coercive or improper tactics in obtaining the initial statement, the mere fact that a suspect has made an unwarned admission does not warrant a presumption of compulsion. A subsequent administration of Miranda warnings to a suspect who has given a voluntary but unwarned statement ordinarily should suffice to remove the conditions that precluded admission of the earlier statement." (Id. at p. 314.) In the circumstances of Elstad, the court stated the defendant's initial unwarned statement was voluntary and his subsequent statement was made after voluntarily waiving his Miranda rights. (Id. at pp. 315-316.) Elstad concluded: "The dictates of Miranda and the goals of the Fifth Amendment proscription against use of compelled testimony are fully satisfied in the circumstances of this case by barring use of the unwarned statement in the case in chief. No further purpose is served by imputing 'taint' to subsequent statements obtained pursuant to a voluntary and knowing waiver. We hold today that a suspect who has once responded to unwarned yet uncoercive questioning is not thereby disabled from waiving his rights and confessing after he has been given the requisite Miranda warnings." (Elstad, supra, at p. 318.) In Missouri v. Seibert (2004) 542 U.S. 600, police had an intentional strategy designed to circumvent Miranda. The police woke the defendant in the middle of the night, at a hospital where her son was being treated. They followed official instructions not to give her Miranda warnings. She was arrested and taken to the police station where, according to plan, she was not given Miranda warnings and was questioned for 30 to 40 minutes. When the defendant finally admitted the crime, she was given a short break, before she was given her Miranda warnings. She waived her rights, and provided a second statement when an officer reminded her of the previous conversation and confronted her with her previous statements. (Seibert, supra, at pp. 604-605.) The Supreme Court concluded in Seibert that the deliberate police strategy of "question first" effectively undermined the purpose of Miranda warnings. (542 U.S. at pp. 611-614.) The court distinguished Seibert from Elstad, which involved " 'a simple failure to administer the warnings, unaccompanied by any actual coercion or other circumstances calculated to undermine the suspect's ability to exercise his free will.' " (Seibert, supra, 542 U.S. at p. 615, citing Elstad, supra, 470 U.S. at p. 309.) The court also concluded: "In Elstad, it was not unreasonable to see the occasion for questioning at the station house as presenting a markedly different experience from the short conversation at home; since a reasonable person in the suspect's shoes could have seen the station house questioning as a new and distinct experience, the Miranda warnings could have made sense as presenting a genuine choice whether to follow up on the earlier admission." (Seibert, supra, at pp. 615-616.)