Miranda warnings are considered a hallmark of the criminal justice system that sets forth the defendant’s right to remain silent. In general, a defendant cannot be compelled to answer questions while they are in police “custody” if they invoke their Miranda rights. Generally, a defendant who in custody and under interrogation must be warned that they have a right to remain silent, that anything he or she says can be used against him or her, that he or she has the right to the presence of an attorney before and during questioning, and that if he or she cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for him or her before any questioning if he or she so desires. Miranda v Arizona (1966) 384 US 436, 479, 86 S Ct 1602.
However, what most defendants do not fully appreciate is the fact that in Miranda, the court specifically states that both elements of custody and interrogation must be present for the police to be legally required to read a defendant their Miranda advisement. Once the defendant invokes their right to remain silent, all questioning must stop and any further interrogation and resultant statements cannot be used against the defendant in a criminal proceeding. In the same vein any evidence gained from a defendant who undergoes custodial interrogation without being properly Mirandized may also be subject to the exclusionary rule.
This appears simple enough, yet factors such as voluntariness, elements of a custodial vs non custodial setting, and types of questioning that constitute interrogation rather than simple identifying questions all change the landscape of Miranda since the watershed decision.
For the purposes of this discussion, we shall analyze why persons detained by police or PERT for mental health evaluations but arrested instead should be aligned with criminal defendants for purposes of Miranda.
The first element in determining whether a defendant should be read their rights is whether they are in custody. The elements of custody have slowly been shaped through the years. In general, the test for determining whether defendant is in custody for Miranda advisement purposes is whether given the totality of the circumstances their freedom to “leave” is curtailed; often to the same degree associated with formal arrest. The intent behind the seminal Miranda case directs future interpretations of the meaning of the word custody. By its very nature, custodial police interrogation entails “inherently compelling pressures” not found in normal interactions found with other public servants like social workers, emergency medical personal, or government office workers. Miranda, 384 U.S., at 467, 86 S.Ct. 1602.
The stress from the physical and psychological isolation generated through custodial interrogation is designed to undermine a defendant’s will and generate a false sense of helplessness and fear that compels them to speak where they would not do so in the absence of said pressures. Any police interaction between an individual suspected of a crime can feel coercive but questioning that occur in police “custody” heightens the risk that statements obtained are not a product of the defendant’s free will. Dickerson v. United States, 530 U.S. 428, 435, 120 S.Ct. 2326, 147 L.Ed.2d 405 (2000).
Proceeding on the premise that mental health defendants’ first interactions when having a mental health crisis is most often with law enforcement not trained in mental health. It may be a “specialized” agency like PERT but nonetheless law enforcement officers with the authority to detain and arrest. Medical personal like psychiatrists, social workers, or emergency ambulance workers are not the first responders to mental health crisis’s. [SUBSECTION ON POLICE INTERACTION]
Because of this, the police will enter to a possibly dangerous situation where the mentally ill person is acting a danger to themselves or others. In acting a danger to themselves or others, they may meet criteria for a misdemeanor or felony. Take for example, a defendant who is psychotic and trying to harm themselves with a knife because they are hearing command delusions. If the police enter their residence, the first sight they may be greeted with is defendant holding a knife or razor as they might accidentally swing it around or throw it down but with the appearance of throwing it at someone. Thus they can easily meet the criteria for California Penal Code § 245(a)(1), assault with a deadly weapon or even California Penal Code § 245(c), assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer, as the peace officer in the course of restraining them may have a knife or weapon brandished toward them accidentally.
The law holds that a defendants’ statements resulting from their free will to go to the police and make statements are not protected under Miranda. However, case law clarifies that voluntariness is not easily defined. Recognizing that police interactions can become coercive and subject defendant to formal custodial interrogation is key to carving out exceptions to police interactions can blur the line between voluntary and involuntary statements. Defendants temporarily detained for brief questioning by police officers who at the time lack probable cause to make an arrest are not conferred the right to Miranda warnings until the situation elevates to the point of arrest or accusation or questioning ceases being brief and casual and becomes sustained and coercive. In many scenarios, a mentally ill defendant may be acting in such a bizarre manner that the latter statements need not apply, but it is in the case where a defendant who was previously acting out and composed themselves in anticipation of PERT may fall into that grey area.
Welf. & Inst. Code, § 300
The courts will look to see if defendant made statements to the police before he was advised of his Miranda rights, and whether they were voluntary, spontaneous statements not made in response to a custodial interrogation setting. Coercive police activity is a necessary predicate to the finding that a confession is not voluntary. Absent police conduct causally related to defendant’s statements, there is no basis for concluding that a state actor has deprived defendant of due process of law. Mental illness is relevant to the inquiry over their voluntary actions and susceptibility to coercion, but mere examination of the defendant’s state of mind can never be the sole basis for a due process violation. United States v. Preston, 751 F.3d 1008, 1019. Concomitantly defendant’s mental illness by itself and unrelated to coercion, should never entirely dispose of the inquiry into voluntariness. However, for most cases counsel needs to distinguish a defendant who makes statements due to delusions versus one who does so because they are unaware of the circumstances of ______. For purposes of this, both should constitute “coercion????” police practices.
Assuming arguendo defendant has been placed in handcuffs, made to stand or sit against a wall, and questioning about the circumstances that brought the police there, they could assert that this setting does meet the requirement that there is a restriction on their personal freedom that rendered them in custody for Miranda advisement purposes as it generated the same kind of coercive environment under which Miranda was originally made applicable.
Defendant needs to make the distinction that the test of custody is not dependent upon the subjective intent of the police, but whether a reasonable person could be led to believe defendant’s freedom of movement was restricted by official authority. People v. Blouin (1978) 80 Cal.App.3d 269, 283; People v. White (1968) 69 Cal.2d 751, 760. It is here that the law remains unsettled as to whether a mentally ill defendant who is in cuffs and being questioned about activities that are both a danger to others and potentially criminal should be afforded a mandatory Miranda advisement.
In the cases where custody falls short of actual arrest depends upon a number of factors. Mental health defendants could argue by a parity of reasoning that they are aligned with _______. Factors the court would consider are (1) the site of the interrogation; (2) whether the investigation was focused on the suspect; (3) whether the indicia of arrest are present; and (4) the length and form of the questioning. See People v. Herdan (1974) 42 Cal.App.3d 300, 306-307.
Reasonable suspicion of criminal activity is insufficient to justify custodial interrogation even though the interrogation is investigative. Florida v Royer (1983) 460 US 491, 499, 103 S Ct 1319 [citation]. In many cases of mental health evaluations, the police first engage in a fact finding mission to determine if the defendant should be on a 5150 hold or be detained for criminal actions. The closer the situation approaches the nebulous point where probable cause has been reached, the more likely Miranda warnings will be required. See People v Ceccone (1968) 260 CA2d 886
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