The Cranston, Rhode Island, police arrested the detainee in connection with various crimes. Prior to each interrogation, the police reminded him of his Miranda rights, and at no time did the detainee request an attorney. The detainee made various incriminating statements that were used in the eventual conviction. The U.S. Supreme Court, overturning the decision of the Rhode Island Supreme Court, held that the police’s failure to inform a detainee of an attorney’s unilateral efforts to contact the detainee did not deprive him of his ability to knowingly waive his Fifth Amendment rights to remain silent and to the presence of counsel. Once it is demonstrated that a suspect’s decision not to rely on his rights was not coerced, that the detainee at all times knew he could stand mute and request a lawyer, and that the detainee was aware of the state’s intention to use his statements to secure a conviction, the analysis is complete. A detainee’s Sixth Amendment right to counsel does not attach only after the first formal charging procedure.
The police’s actions were not so offensive as to deprive the detainee of the fundamental fairness guaranteed by the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment because the actions did not shock the sensibilities of civilized society. Events occurring outside the presence of a suspect—and entirely unknown to the suspect at the time of an interrogation—can have no bearing on the detainee’s capacity to comprehend and knowingly relinquish a constitutional right.
DAVID M. CARR
References and Further Reading
Cases and Statutes Cited
See also Coerced Confessions/Police Interrogations; Right to Counsel