Because police interrogation of a suspect has the potential for compulsory self-incrimination, it is subject to limitations imposed by the Fifth Amendment. Determining what constitutes an interrogation and whether the individual was in custody are key inquiries that impact procedural parameters.
Let’s put this into action. Police received a phone call from someone who claimed he had just planted a bomb in a nearby high school and that it would go off in forty-five minutes. Police officers, including the bomb squad, rushed to the scene as the school was being evacuated. While surveying the area outside the school, an officer came upon a young man perched in a tree who appeared to be observing the scene with a pair of binoculars. The officer demanded that the man come down from the tree. As he was climbing down, a cell phone fell from his pocket. The officer picked up the phone and pushed the button to display the call history, which showed that the last number called was the police station. The officer, with three other officers, surrounded the man and asked, “Where’s the bomb?” The man replied that there was no bomb and that the whole thing had been a prank. The man was arrested on a charge of making a false bomb threat. In a pretrial motion, his attorney moved to suppress the statements made by the suspect in response to the officer’s questions..
The competencies addressed in this discussion are supported by discussion objectives.
- Competency 3: Explain the substantive and procedural interpretations of individual freedoms based on case analysis.
- Explain how the court’s ruling in Miranda applies to the scenario.
- Determine whether a motion to suppress should be granted based on court interpretation of the Fifth Amendment
- Evaluate voluntariness in the context of the confession based on court interpretation of the Fifth Amendment.
- Propose departmental best practices to ensure Fifth Amendment compliance.