The defendant was arrested for assaulting a federal officer. He was also suspected of being involved in a bank robbery. The officers eventually took the defendant to their offices, located in the same building as the local magistrate judges. Some 9.5 hours after his arrest, the defendant waived his Miranda rights and gave an oral confession to the bank robbery. He then stated “he was tired and wanted a break” which was granted. The following morning, the officers continued their interrogation, which resulted in the defendant’s written confession that afternoon. Twenty-nine and a half hours after his arrest, the officers presented the defendant to a magistrate judge for his initial appearance.
Whether statements made 9.5 and 29.5 hours after an arrest are involuntarily obtained?
Yes. Through statute and case law, statements obtained more than six hours after arrest and without the benefit of a preliminary hearing are presumed to be inadmissible.
The Court has previously held “a confession given seven hours after arrest inadmissible for ‘unnecessary delay’ in presenting the suspect to a magistrate, where the police questioned the suspect for hours ‘within the vicinity of numerous committing magistrates’” [citing Mallory v. United States]. Delay for the purpose of conducting an interrogation is the height of the meaning of “unnecessary delay” prohibited by the Federal Rules of Procedure 5(a). This is known as the McNabb-Mallory rule.
When Congress enacted 18 U.S.C. § 3501, the statute specified that statements (1) voluntarily given and (2) made within 6 hours of arrest, are admissible. The 6-hour time limit is extended when further delay is “reasonable considering the means of transportation and the distance to be traveled to the nearest available [magistrate judge].” The Court found that this statute “modified McNabb-Mallory without supplanting it.” This means that admissibility determinations will hinge on “whether the defendant confessed within six hours of arrest (unless a longer delay was ‘reasonable considering the means of transportation and the distance to be traveled to the nearest available [magistrate judge]’).” “If the confession came within that period, it is admissible, subject to the other Rules of Evidence.” Statements obtained beyond the six-hour rule can be suppressed if a court decides the delay was unreasonable or unnecessary under the McNabb-Mallory rule.
556 U.S. 303; 129 S. Ct. 1558 (2009)