Missouri v. Seibert 542 U.S. 600, 124 S.Ct. 2601, 159 L.Ed.2d 643 (2004)
The police suspected that
Seibert had started a fire that killed Rector. They sent in a policeman
to interrogate her without reading her the Miranda Warning. She confessed, and the policeman left.
20 minutes later, the police
sent in a second policeman who read her the Miranda Warning (which she waived) and asked her to repeat her
confession, which she did.
The Trial Court convicted
Seibert of murder. She appealed.
The prosecutor introduced
the second, post-Miranda
confession into evidence (but not the first).
Seibert argued that the
second confession was only the product of the first, pre-Miranda confession, and thus should be inadmissible as
"fruit of the poisonous tree."
The prosecutor argued that Seibert's
initial confession did not make her incapable of voluntarily waiving her
rights and confessing again. She could have shut up.
The Missouri Supreme Court
overturned the conviction. The prosecutor appealed.
The Missouri Supreme Court
found that the second confession was inadmissible because the police only
asked her to confess based on her pre-Miranda statements.
The US Supreme Court affirmed.
The US Supreme Court found
that that the post-Miranda
confession is only admissible if the Miranda Warning (and the length of time between
interrogations) is sufficient to give the suspect the reasonable belief
that she has the right not to speak with the police.
The Court found that,
"by any objective measure, it is likely that if the interrogators
employ the technique of withholding warnings until after the
interrogation succeeds in eliciting a confession, the warnings will be
ineffective in preparing the suspect for successive interrogations,
close in time and similar in content."
"Upon hearing warnings
just after making a confession, a suspect would hardly think he had a
genuine right to remain silent, let alone persist in so believing once
the police began to lead him over the same ground."
In a concurring opinion it
was suggested that this ruling should be limited to situations where the
police are intentionally using the
two-stage interrogation method to get around the Miranda
Warning, not situations where the
police questioning was unintentional.
In a dissent, it was argued
that the police should be allowed to continue to use the question-first,
warn-later approach, so long as they could show that the first confession
was voluntary and that the "taint" of the first confession had
Basically, the case said that
when pre-Miranda questioning
occurs, the police must give enough time between interrogations, and be
emphatic enough about the Miranda Warning to give the suspect confidence that they can
remain silent if they so chose to.