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Arizona v. Mauro


The defendant was arrested for killing his son. After being read his Miranda rights, he invoked his right to counsel and stated that he did not wish to answer any questions until a lawyer was present. The defendant’s wife insisted that she be allowed to speak with the defendant. The police allowed the meeting on the condition that an officer be present during the encounter. Using a tape recorder in plain sight, the officer taped a brief conversation during which the defendant told his wife not to answer any questions until a lawyer was present. At trial, the prosecution used the tape to rebut defendant’s insanity defense.


Whether the police impermissibly interrogated the defendant in violation of his Miranda rights?


No. The defendant, who had asserted his right to counsel, was not subjected to interrogation or its functional equivalent when the government allowed the defendant’s wife to speak with defendant in the presence of an officer.


The purpose of Miranda is to prevent the government from using the coercive nature of confinement to extract confessions that would not be given in an unrestrained environment. This fear was not implicated here because the defendant was not subjected to compelling influences, psychological ploys, or direct questioning by the government. From the defendant’s perspective, it is improbable that he felt he was being coerced to incriminate himself simply because he was told his wife would be allowed to speak to him.


481 U.S. 520, 107 S. Ct. 1931 (1987)

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