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Dunaway v. New York


Following a robbery and murder, the government received information that implicated the defendant, though it did not amount to probable cause to arrest. Nevertheless, the officers illegally seized the defendant and brought him to the police station. Once at the station, the officers placed the defendant in an interrogation room, where he was given his Miranda rights. The defendant waived his rights and, within an hour of reaching the police station, made statements and drew sketches that implicated him in the crime.


Whether the statements and sketches made by the defendant are admissible if the government violates his Fourth Amendment rights?


No. The statements and sketches provided by the defendant were inadmissible, as they were the product of an illegal seizure under the Fourth Amendment.


The government effectively arrested the defendant when they seized him and took him to the station for questioning. While the government did not characterize the seizure as an “arrest,” there was no practical difference between how the defendant was treated and a traditional arrest. Because they did not have probable cause, the defendant’s seizure was in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

As for the defendant’s statements, the Court considered “whether the connection between the unconstitutional government conduct and the incriminating statements and sketches obtained during the defendant’s illegal detention were nevertheless sufficiently attenuated to permit their use at trial.” Among the factors to be considered are the time between “the arrest and the confession, the presence of intervening circumstances, and, particularly, the purpose and flagrancy of the official misconduct.” Applying these factors, the Court found a direct connection between the illegal arrest of the defendant and the statements and sketches obtained from him. Less than two hours had elapsed between the arrest and the statements; there were no “intervening” circumstances; and the clear purpose of the officers in taking the defendant into custody was to interrogate him. Although the defendant was properly advised of his Miranda rights and his statements were given “voluntarily,” these facts are not enough to break the direct causal connection between the illegal arrest and his statements.


442 U.S. 200, 99 S. Ct. 2248 (1979)

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