4. The other officer agreed "that it was a safety factor, and that we should,
you know, continue to search for the weapon and try to find it." The suspect
then interrupted the officers and told them to turn the car around. He stated
that he "wanted to get the gun out of the way because of the kids in the area
of the school." On appeal, the issue was whether or not the suspect had been
The Supreme Court explained that Miranda had referred to
"questioning" of the suspect. The term "interrogation," however, extended to
more than that. It included "techniques of persuasion, no less than express
The court then concluded that the term extended to "either
express questioning or its functional equivalent." In other words, it covers
not merely "express questioning, but also... any words or actions on the part
of the police (other than those normally attendant to arrest and custody) that
the police should know are reasonably likely to elicit an incriminating
response from the suspect... A practice that the police should know is
reasonably likely to evoke an incriminating response from a suspect thus
amounts to interrogation."
5. The court noted, however, that it was not holding that all statements
obtained by the police after a person has been taken into custody are
automatically to be considered the product of interrogation. It explained that
"since the police surely cannot be held accountable for the unforeseeable
results of their words or actions, the definition of interrogation can extend
only to words or actions on the part of police officers that they should have
known were reasonably likely to elicit an incriminating response."
cases, the intent of the police officers is important, "for it may well have a
bearing on whether the police should have known that their words or actions
were reasonably likely to evoke an incriminating response.
where a police practice is designed to elicit an incriminating response from
the accused, it is unlikely that the practice will not also be one which the
police should have known was reasonably likely to have that effect.
6. Under the facts presented, the court held that there had been no
interrogation. It could not be said that the two officers should have known
that their brief conversation was reasonably likely to elicit an incriminating
response from the suspect.
Their remarks were not designed to provoke a
response from the suspect, and there was no reason for them to have known that
their "few offhand remarks" would have produced any such response. The issue,
then, is whether or not the suspect's response was "the product of words or
actions on the part of the police that they should have known were reasonably
likely to elicit an incriminating response." Here, the testimony of the police
officers was critical in convincing the court that they acted in good faith,
and hadn't intended to induce the suspect to make a statement.
7. Another example of this problem is People v. Ferro, 472 NE2d 13 (NY,
1984). The defendant had been arrested for the murder of a woman during the
course of a robbery in which some furs were stolen from her home. The
defendant was in a cell in the police station. A detective left the police
station and returned with the stolen furs, which he then stacked in front of
the cell, a foot away from the suspect. The officer said nothing, but simply
stared at the suspect who, after a few minutes, confessed. On appeal, the
court held that the detective should have known that his actions were