Brief Fact Summary. The defendants offered incriminating evidence during police interrogations without prior notification of their rights under the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution (the “Constitution”ť).
Synopsis of Rule of Law. Government authorities need to inform individuals of their Fifth Amendment constitutional rights prior to an interrogation following an arrest.
The second Defendant, Michael Vignera (“Mr. Vignera”ť), was arrested for robbery. Mr. Vignera orally admitted to the robbery to the first officer after the arrest, and he was held in detention for eight hours before he made an admission to an assistant district attorney. There was no evidence that he was notified of his Fifth Amendment constitutional rights.
The third Defendant, Carl Calvin Westover (“Mr. Westover”ť), was arrested for two robberies. Mr. Westover was questioned over fourteen hours by local police, and then was handed to Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”ť) agents, who were able to get signed confessions from Mr. Westover. The authorities did not notify Mr. Westover of his Fifth Amendment constitutional rights.
The fourth Defendant, Roy Allen Stewart (“Mr. Stewart”ť), was arrested, along with members of his family (although there was no evidence of any wrongdoing by his family) for a series of purse snatches. There was no evidence that Mr. Stewart was notified of his rights. After nine interrogations, Mr. Stewart admitted to the crimes.
Issue. Whether the government is required to notify the arrested defendants of their Fifth Amendment constitutional rights against self-incrimination before they interrogate the defendants?