Brief Fact Summary. The Respondent, Raymond Levi Cobb (the “Respondent”), was indicted for a burglary he confessed to. While in police custody for the burglary charge, he confessed to the murder of the two missing persons from the house he robbed.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. The Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution (“Constitution”) right to counsel is offense-specific and will not transfer to another offense regardless of the close factual relationship.
Some state courts and Federal Courts of Appeals, however, have read into McNeil's offense-specific definition an exception for crimes that are factually related to a charged offense.View Full Point of Law
Issue. Whether the Respondent’s right to counsel for the charges of burglary extend to the factually related murder charges and therefore render the police confession inadmissible?
Held. The confession is admissible because the Respondent waived his Miranda rights, and his right to counsel for the burglary charge would not transfer to the murder charge.
Dissent. The dissent argues that the spirit of the Sixth Amendment of the Constitution would require factually similar offenses to be grouped together for purposes of right to counsel. The concern then is that police could badger a suspect in custody on non-specific offense-related matters.
Concurrence. The concurring opinion argues for initiating the time frame for Sixth Amendment rights to counsel to hearings and trial matters rather than the earlier time frame presupposed by the majority. Additionally, they address the dissent’s concerns and argue that the suspect needs to make a “clear and unambiguous assertion of the right not to speak outside the presence of counsel.”
Discussion. The Supreme Court of the United States (“Supreme Court”) draws a bright line by not extending the Sixth Amendment right to counsel to other offenses, regardless of how interwoven the offenses may.