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Missouri v. Seibert


    Citation. Missouri v. Seibert, 542 U.S. 600, 124 S. Ct. 2601, 159 L. Ed. 2d 643, 2004 U.S. LEXIS 4578, 72 U.S.L.W. 4634, 17 A.L.R. Fed. 2d 851, 2004 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 476 (U.S. June 28, 2004)

    Brief Fact Summary. Respondent, Seibert, brought appeal after she was convicted of second-degree murder based on a confession that was elicited after she had made an un-Mirandized confession.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. In order to use a post-Mirandized confession, after eliciting an un-Mirandized confession, the police must give the defendant ample opportunity to consider the effect of the Miranda warnings.

    Facts. Respondent was convicted of second-degree murder, after a fire was set to her mobile home, killing another individual who lived there. Several days after the fire, she was interrogated by a police officer, who initially withheld her Miranda warnings, hoping to get her to first confess. Once Seibert confessed, the officer took a break, read her the Miranda rights and resumed questioning after she made a waiver. He prompted her to restate the confession she made earlier, and she was convicted based on that second question. Seibert appealed based on the fact that the use of an un-Mirandized confession to get a later confession made that later confession inadmissible. The Supreme Court of Missouri agreed and overturned the conviction, and the State brought appeal to the United States Supreme Court.

    Issue. When an officer intentionally decides to withhold Miranda warnings to elicit a confession, is a later-Mirandized confession admissible?

    Held. The second Post-Miranda confession is not admissible when a prior confession has been given unless the Miranda warning and accompanying break are sufficient to give the defendant the reasonable belief that she can decide not to speak with police.

    Dissent. Justice O’Connor, for the dissent, writes that more deference should be given to prior case law that allows for two-step confessions, so long as the officer is acting in good faith.

    Concurrence. Justice Breyer concurred, noting that the fruits of an un-Mirandized confession should be excluded unless that confession was obtained in good faith. Here the officer made a conscious decision not to Mirandize the suspect and thus, a subsequent Mirandized confession should not be valid. Justice Kennedy also concurred, noting that if a deliberate two-step confession occurs, as it seems to have in this case, all later-obtained evidence is fruit of the poisonous tree.

    Discussion. A confession obtained after an un-Mirandized confession was given is not always inadmissible but, when it is intentionally obtained by a determination not to give Miranda warnings, it is.


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