Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Fives Affirm Suppression of Un-Mirandized Statements Made In Response to Interrogation During Execution of Search Warrant at Suspect's Home

United States v. Cavazos, No. 11-50094 (5th Cir. Jan. 19, 2012) (Benavides, Prado, Alvarez, D.J.)

Following Cavazos's successful motion to suppress un-Mirandized statements he made in response to interrogation during the execution of a search warrant at his home, the Government took an interlocutory appeal. It argued that Miranda warnings weren't required because Cavazos was not in custody when he was interrogated, relying on the facts that the interrogation took place in Cavazos's home and that the interrogating agents told Cavazos it was a "non-custodial interview."  The Court disagreed:
Here, the totality of circumstances, drawn from the record as seen in the light most favorable to Cavazos, indicates Cavazos was in custody at the time he made his incriminating statements. Just after 5:30 a.m., Cavazos was awakened from his bed, identified and handcuffed, while more than a dozen officers entered and searched his home; he was separated from his family and interrogated by two federal agents for at least an hour; he was informed he was free to use the bathroom or get a snack, but followed and monitored when he sought to do so; and he was allowed to make a phone call, but only when holding the phone so that the agents could overhear the conversation. An interrogation under such circumstances, and those others discussed above, would lead a reasonable person to believe that he was not “at liberty to terminate the interrogation and leave,” notwithstanding the fact that the interrogation occurred in his home and he was informed the interrogation was “non-custodial.”
(internal cite snipped).



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