Miranda warnings before he asked questions devoted to locating the abandoned
concern for public safety must be paramount to adherence to the
literal language of Miranda."
Here, the police "were confronted with the
immediate necessity of ascertaining the whereabouts of a gun which they had
every reason to believe the suspect had just removed from his empty holster and
discarded in the supermarket. So long as the gun was concealed somewhere in
the supermarket, with its actual whereabouts unknown, it obviously posed more
than a danger to the public safety: an accomplice might make use of it, a
customer or employee might later come upon it." The court concluded:
"In such a situation, if the police are required to recite the
familiar Miranda warnings before asking the whereabouts of a gun,
suspects in Quarles' position (the name of the defendant) might be
deterred from responding. The cost would have been something more
than merely the failure to obtain the evidence useful in convicting
Quarles. Officer Kraft needed an answer to his question not simply
to make his case against Quarles, but to ensure that further danger
to the public did not result from the concealment of the gun in a
3. The question the police officer asked, then, was not designed "solely to
elicit testimonial evidence from a suspect," but was "necessary to secure their
own safety or the safety of the public." New York v. Quarles, 467 US 649, 81
L.Ed.2d 550 104 SCt 2626 (1984).
Under these facts, then, Miranda warnings
were not necessary.
The military courts confronted this problem in U.S. v.
Jones, 19 MJ 961 (ACMR, 1985), aff'd, 26 MJ 353 (CMA, 1988). A suspect said
that he stabbed someone. Without advising him of his rights, the police asked
him where the body was, and where the victim had been stabbed. The court cited
the public safety issue, and applied it to what it saw as a "rescue" situation.
Two factors had to be present in order for the rescue situation to apply.
First, there had to be the possibility of saving human life or avoiding serious
injury by rescuing the one in danger.
Second, the situation had to be such
that no course of action other than questioning the suspect would promise any
relief from the situation. Here, the questions asked "were the only available
services to a seriously injured person.
As long as the victim remained
unlocated and unattended, his life potentially hung in the balance."
was, therefore, no need to advise the suspect of his rights prior to asking
where the victim was, and where the victim had been stabbed.
4. The police faced a similar problem in U.S. v. Mesa, 638 F.2d 582 (3d
Circuit, 1980). An FBI hostage negotiator was trying to convince a suspect to
surrender peacefully. The suspect had shot his wife, and was barricaded in a
motel room, where he was believed to be holding hostages. Certain statements
that the suspect made to the police were later used in evidence against him.
The court held that Miranda warnings were not needed in such a situation.
"Extending Miranda to this situation would put law enforcement officers to a
delicate and difficult choice.
When confronted with an armed, barricaded
suspect who is possibly holding hostages, their attention would be diverted
from what should be their primary purpose -- that of using the means most
likely to convince the suspect to surrender peacefully without harming anyone