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Arrest and Patrol Car

All officers hear it, and it’s most likely said many, many times each and every day all across this great land of ours.

It’s a phrase that’s spoken by the wisest of the wise—the soothsayers of the legal world. The top legal minds of the entire universe..

That famous line is typically delivered in a sing-songish manner. Gently and soothingly. Almost like a lullaby.

I’ve heard it more times than I could possibly begin to count. And, I can still hear those kind, soothing words today, and they are …

“I. Know. My. Rights, you fat pig! You gotta let me go ’cause you didn’t read me my rights! Now take off these cuffs … NOW!!!!”

Miranda

When is a police officer required to advise a suspect of the Miranda warnings?

I’ll give you a hint, it’s not like we see on television. Surprised?

Television shows often have officers spouting off Miranda warnings the second they have someone in cuffs. Not so. I’ve been in plenty of situations where I chased a suspect, caught him, he resisted, and then we wound up on the ground fighting like street thugs while I struggled to apply handcuffs to his wrists. And yes, words were spoken once I managed to get to my feet, but Miranda wasn’t one of them. Too many letters, if you know what I mean. Words consisting of only four letters seemed to flow quite easily at that point.

When Is Miranda Required?

Two elements must be in place for the Miranda warning requirement to apply. The suspect must be in custody and he must be undergoing interrogation.

Writers, this is an important detail – A suspect is in police custody if he’s under formal arrest or if his freedom has been restrained or denied to the extent that he feels as if he’s no longer free to leave.

The fellow wearing the handcuffs in the photo below is not free to leave. Therefore, should the officer wish to question him he must advise him of his right to remain silent, etc. However, if the officer decides to not ask questions/interrogate, then Miranda is not required.

arrest-take-down.jpg

I’ve arrested criminals, many of them, in fact, and never advised them of their rights. Not ever. And that’s because I didn’t ask them any questions.

Sometimes officers receive a stack of outstanding arrest warrants for a variety of cases and it’s their job that day to go out and round up those folks. Those officers have no clue as to the circumstances of the crime or case details, therefore they’d not know the appropriate questions to ask. All they know is that the boss handed them a pile of warrants and told them to fetch. This, by the way, is often one of the mundane duties assigned to rookie officers, along with directing traffic and writing parking tickets.

So, the warrant-serving officers locate the person named on the warrant and haul them to jail for processing. The officer who had the warrant issued may or may not question the arrested person at a later time. But the arresting officer, the one who played hide and seek  with the crook for a few hours on a Monday morning is most likely out of the picture from that point onward. So no questioning = no Miranda.

Interrogation

Interrogation is not only asking questions, but any actions, words, or gestures used by an officer to elicit an incriminating response can be considered as an interrogation.

If these two elements are in place officers must advise a suspect of the Miranda warnings prior to questioning. If not, statements made by the suspect may not be used in court. Doesn’t mean the arrest isn’t good, just that his statements aren’t admissible.

Officers do not have to advise anyone of their rights if they’re not going to ask questions. Defendants are convicted all the time without ever hearing that sing-songy police officer’s poem,  You have the right to …

Miranda facts:

Officers should repeat the Miranda warnings during each period of questioning. For example, during questioning officers decide to take a break for the night. They come back the next day to try again. They must advise the suspect of his rights again before resuming the questioning.

If an officer takes over questioning for another officer, she should repeat the warnings before asking her questions.

If a suspect asks for an attorney, officers may not ask any questions.

If a suspect agrees to answer questions, but decides to stop during the session and asks for an attorney, officers must stop the questioning.

Suspects who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs should not be questioned. Also, anyone who exhibits signs of withdrawl symptoms should not be questioned.

Officers should not question people who are seriously injured or ill.

People who are extremely upset or hysterical should not be questioned.

Officers may not threaten or make promises to elicit a confession.

Many officers carry a pre-printed Miranda warning card in their wallets. A National Sheriff’s Association membership card (same design and feel of a credit card) has the warnings printed on the reverse side.

Fact: The Miranda warning requirement stemmed from a case involving a man named Ernesto Miranda.  Miranda killed a young woman in Arizona and was arrested for the crime. During questioning Miranda confessed to the slaying, but the police had failed to tell him he had the right to silence and that he could have an attorney present during the questioning. Miranda’s confession was ruled inadmissible; however, the court convicted him based on other evidence.

Miranda was released from prison after he served his sentence. Not long after his release he was killed during a bar fight.

His killer was advised of his rights according to the precedent setting case of Miranda v. Arizona. He chose to remain silent.

*Some individual department/location policies requires their officers to advise of Miranda at the point of arrest. However, the law does not require them to do so.


 

The Writers’ Police Academy is pleased to present MurderCon, one of the most exciting opportunities ever made available to writers. In fact, the event is a rare one-of-a-kind event that’s never been offered before and may never be offered again.

MurderCon, presented by the Writers’ Police Academy, is a special hands-on training event for writers of all genres, with a specific focus on solving the crime of murder. It’s a unique juncture of fiction and fact at a major source of modern crime-scene investigation technology, Sirchie.

Attendees receive the same instruction that’s offered to, and attended by, top homicide detectives and investigators from around the world. First-hand experience will provide writers with the tools needed to portray crime scene details realistically, and to share with their readers the experience of what it’s like to investigate a murder.

MurderCon’s incredibly detailed and cutting-edge workshops, taught by some of the world’s leading experts, has never been available to writers, anywhere.

Yes, MurderCon is a “Killer” event, and you’re invited to attend!

Sign up today! Not a single crime writer should miss this event. It is that important to your work!

Interrogation classes at MurderCon taught by renowned expert, Paul Bishop.

Novelist, screenwriter, and television personality, Paul Bishop is a nationally recognized behaviorist and expert in deception detection. He spent 35 years with the Los Angeles Police Department where his high profile Special Assault Units regularly produced the highest number of detective initiated arrests and highest crime clearance rates in the city. Twice selected as LAPD’s Detective of the Year, he currently conducts law enforcement related seminars for city, state, and private agencies. Paul has written numerous scripts for episodic television and is the author of fifteen novels, including the award winning Lie Catchers and five books in his LAPD Homicide Detective Fey Croaker series.

* Paul’s appearance at the 2019 MurderCon event is sponsored by bestselling author Kendra Elliot.

Police officers are required to follow a set of strict court-ordered rules when interrogating a suspect who’s in their custody. And, if they don’t follow those set-in-stone rules, any statement made by the suspect would most likely be ruled inadmissible in court. Imagine if that wrongfully-obtained statement had been a full confession to a murder. Definitely not good.

So here’s a handy checklist for your protagonists to follow when they’ve got their bad guy under the hot lights.

1. Physical abuse is forbidden. So put away the rubber hoses.

2. Promises of leniency are also not allowed. Police officers do not have the authority to reduce a jail or prison sentence, nor can they pick the jail or prison where a suspect will serve his time. An officer’s involvement in the case ends with her court testimony.

3. Miranda warnings (reading of rights—you have the right to remain silent … etc.) are given before interrogating a suspect who’s in custody. It’s not like you see on TV. Officers do not begin spouting off the warnings the second they arrest someone. No, no, and NO! Only to people they intend to question. And, questioning is not reserved for serious felonies. People who commit misdemeanors are questioned as well. Keep in mind, though, that department policy may require some officers to present/read/announce the warnings to every person they take into custody, but it is not the norm to do so.

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Miranda v. Arizona is the case that started the ball rolling. (click here)

4. Officers are not required to give the Miranda warnings when questioning a witness—someone who is not a suspect. Remember: In custody = Read Miranda warnings. No custody = No Miranda warnings.

5. Officers posing as prisoners in any correctional facility (undercover assignment) not required to give Miranda warnings/advisement of rights to prisoners before asking them questions. Therefore, Barney Fife was absolutely following the law when he questioned a prisoner while posing as a fellow crook. See, I told you that show was an accurate portrayal of police work.

6. Miranda warnings should be given each time there’s a significant delay in questioning. For example, you break to get a good night’s sleep and then resume the next day. Officers should give the Miranda warnings before resuming the questioning.

7. Each new/different officer who questions the suspect should again advise him of Miranda. Now, I don’t mean that if five officers are in the room at the same time, each one should take turns reading the guy his rights. I’m referring to the instances where, say, one officer questioned the suspect for a while and then left. Then another officer (might even be from another agency) comes in to ask questions. The new officer would need to advise the suspect of the Miranda warnings. There’s no such thing as a “blanket Miranda warning” that covers everyone at all times.

8. If a suspect, at any time during the questioning, states that he does not understand his rights the officer should stop and repeat the warnings. They should then continue with the warnings until the suspect states that he fully understands and waives each of them.

9. If the officer gives the warnings and then the suspect says he does not wish to answer, the officer may not continue the questioning.

10. If the suspect requests a lawyer, the officer may not question him until an attorney is present. However, that doesn’t mean a lawyer will drop what he’s doing and run down to the police station. It could be days before an attorney is appointed to represent the little darling. And, the suspect could change his mind at any time and decide to answer questions without an attorney being present. Sitting in jail sometimes “changes the mind,” hoping that cooperation will gain their freedom.

11. Officers should never interrogate suspects who’re obviously intoxicated, suffering from withdrawal, severely injured, suffering from mental illness, or extremely upset (hysterical).

12. Officers cannot legally tell suspects that they’ll allow others to harm them if they don’t confess. You see this all the time on TV and in books – “I’m going to put you in a cell with Big John Bend’emover if you don’t tell me what I want to know.” No.

* Officers should read the Miranda warnings from a pre-printed form or card, not recite them from memory. Reading from a form provides consistency and prevents any omissions and additions, even slight ones, which could be used against the state’s case. If possible, it’s best to have the suspect sign a pre-printed form, an agreement to waive his rights and talk to the officer(s). Someone should witness the signing.

Miranda Warnings

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  • You have the right to remain silent and refuse to answer questions. Do you understand?
  • Anything you do say may be used against you in a court of law. Do you understand?-
  • You have the right to consult an attorney before speaking to the police and to have an attorney present during questioning now or in the future. Do you understand?-
  • If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you before any questioning if you wish. Do you understand?-
  • If you decide to answer questions now without an attorney present you will still have the right to stop answering at any time until you talk to an attorney. Do you understand?-
  • Knowing and understanding your rights as I have explained them to you, are you willing to answer my questions without an attorney present?

Those of you who’ve visited this site over the years know that cordite is a big NO and that cops are NOT required to spout off Miranda rights the second they apply handcuffs to the wrists of an offender. You do remember those two points, right?

For the newcomers, here’s a quick refresher on the reading of rights (click the above link to read more about cordite).

Miranda

When is a police officer required to advise a suspect of the Miranda warnings? Well, I’ll give you a hint, it’s not like we see on television. Surprised?

Television shows officers spouting off Miranda warnings the second they have someone in cuffs. Not so. I’ve been in plenty of situations where I chased a suspect, caught him, he resisted, and then we wound up on the ground fighting like street thugs while I struggled to apply handcuffs to his wrists. I can promise you I had a few words to say after I pulled the scuz to his feet, but Miranda wasn’t one of them. Too many letters. At that point, I could only think of words of the four letter variety.

Custodial Interrogation

Two elements must be in place for the Miranda warning requirement to apply.

  • The suspect must be in custody
  • He must be undergoing interrogation (advisement of Miranda comes prior to questioning, while in custody).

A suspect is in police custody if he’s under formal arrest or if his freedom has been restrained or denied to the extent that he feels as if he’s no longer free to leave.

This fellow is not free to leave.

arrest-take-down.jpg

Interrogation is not only asking questions, but any actions, words, or gestures used by an officer to elicit an incriminating response can be considered as an interrogation.

If these two elements are in place officers must advise a suspect of the Miranda warnings prior to questioning. If not, statements made by the suspect may not be used in court. The absence of Miranda doesn’t mean the arrest isn’t good, just that his statements aren’t admissible.

Officers are not required to advise anyone of their rights if they’re not going to ask questions. Defendants are convicted all the time without ever hearing that sing-songy police officer’s poem,  You have the right to …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deception and Lying: Do As I Say, Not As I Do

We all know that it’s illegal to lie to the FBI. And we all know what can happen if you do. That’s right, you go to federal prison where you’ll join the elite Martha Stewart Club.

Making false statements (18 U.S.C. § 1001) is a federal crime laid out in Section 1001 of Title 18 of the United States Code. This is the law that prohibits knowingly and willfully telling fibs to the cops.

On the other hand, it’s perfectly fine for the cops to lie to you. Seems fair.

Police detectives/officers are legally permitted to “stretch the truth  lie in order to solve criminal cases. The case law that permits the officers to fib to suspects is Frazier v. Cupp (1969).

In Frazier, the police falsely told murder suspect Martin E. Frazier that his cousin, Jerry Lee Rawls, had implicated him in the crime (the two were together at the time). He then confessed but later claimed that police shouldn’t be permitted to lie because otherwise he wouldn’t have admitted guilt. The Supreme Court agreed with the police and they’ve been legally fibbing to crooks every day since.

Police investigators use a variety of deceptive tactics, such as:

  • Displaying false sympathy and/or claiming to understand the situation
  • Minimizing the seriousness of the offense and the offenders role
  • Falsely stating there is hard evidence to support a conviction
  • Confession from an accomplice that implicates the suspect
  • And the ever popular, “We have an eyewitness who saw you there.” 

The Florida Second District Court of Appeal went a bit further by limiting just how far the  police can go when stretching the truth. In Florida v. Cayward (1989), the court ruled that it’s perfectly okay to tell fibs (orally) but they may not fabricate evidence in order to deceive suspects. Cayward claimed the police fabricated laboratory reports as a trick to induce a confession. It worked and he spilled the beans. However, the court said police crossed the line and ruled in Cayward’s favor and suppressed the confession.

To sum up – Don’t lie to the cops, and …

 

 

Here are answers to a few of the most often asked questions about police work.

 

  • How do I become an FBI homicide investigator so I can help solve the murder cases my town? Easy answer. You can’t. The FBI doesn’t work local homicide cases, therefore, the agency does not employ homicide investigators. That’s the job of city, county, and state police.

  • How long does it take to become a detective? There is no set timeline/standard, so the answer is … as long as it takes. It’s all about who’s the best person for the job. One person may be ready with as little as two years experience, while another may not be ready for a plainclothes assignment, well, they may never be ready. The job of detective isn’t for everyone, by the way. Some officers prefer to work in patrol, or traffic, in the schools, or in the division that inspects taxi cabs and buses to be sure they’re in compliance with local law and standards.

  • Why didn’t you read that guy his rights before you handcuffed him? Aren’t you required to do so by law? Don’t you have to let him go now that someone knows you broke the law by not reading him his rights?

Miranda, first of all, is only required when (a) someone is in custody, and (b) prior to questioning. Therefore, if I, as a police officer, don’t plan to ask any questions, and that’s often the case, I don’t have to spout off the “You have the right to remain silent” speech. So no, not advising someone of Miranda is not a get out of jail free card.

miranda law

  • Why do cops wear sunglasses? Umm … because they’re constantly exposed to bright sunshine and the glasses help reduce glare and eyestrain.

  • I got a ticket for not wearing my seat belt, yet the USPS letter carrier in my neighborhood doesn’t wear his. How do they get away with breaking the law? Most areas have laws that specifically address delivery drivers and similar professions—letter carriers, delivery services, police officers, firefighters, etc., whose jobs require them to be in and out of their vehicles throughout the business day. And, those laws typically excuse the driver(s) from mandatory seat belt laws while performing their jobs. However, many of these businesses and agencies require their drivers to wear safety belts when operating a vehicle.

  • Why are there so many sheriffs in my county? There is only one sheriff per county or city (yes, some cities have a sheriff’s office in addition to a county sheriff’s office). The rest of the folks you see wearing the uniform and star are deputies. A sheriff, the boss of the entire department, is elected by the people. He/she then appoints deputies to assist with the duties of the office—running the jail, courtroom security, serving papers, patrol and criminal investigations, etc.

  •  No, it’s not racial profiling to stop a shifty-eyed white subject with a black nose who’s wearing a red collar with a gold medallion in a location near a bank that was just robbed by a a white subject with a black nose who’s wearing a red collar with a gold medallion.

“Be on the lookout for a shifty-eyed white subject with a black nose. He’s wearing a red collar with gold medallion.”

  • No, you do not have the right to see the radar unit, my gun, or what I’m writing in my notebook.

  • No, turning on your hazard lights does not give you the right to park in the fire lane in front of the grocery store.

  • Yes, I am concerned about your ability to fight well. Please understand, though, that this is what I do for a living and they didn’t teach me to lose. Besides, I have a lot of loyal coworkers who’re on the way here, right now, to see to it that the good guy (me) wins.

They sometimes decide to fight wearing nothing but …

  • You keep saying you know your rights … but you really don’t. Can you hear the nonsense you’re telling me?

You have the right to remain silent. Use it!

  • Yes, no matter how much you hate me, my badge, and my uniform, I’ll still come running when/if you call.

“Help, po-leeeece!”