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Oregon v. Elstad


The defendant was identified as the suspect in a burglary. Two officers obtained an arrest warrant and went to his home. They found the defendant laying on his bed and asked him to get dressed and accompany them to the living room. One of the officers, without providing the defendant his Miranda warnings, asked the defendant if he knew why the officers were there. When the defendant responded that he did not, the officer told him that they believed the defendant was involved in the burglary. The defendant admitted he had been at the victim’s home. Upon arriving at the police station, the defendant was advised for the first time of his Miranda rights.

After indicating that he understood his rights, the defendant waived them and gave the officers a full written confession. The defendant conceded that the officers made no threats or promises either at his residence or at the station house. At trial, the defendant contended that the first statement (given at the home) should be suppressed because no Miranda warnings had been provided, and that the second statement (given at the police station) should be suppressed under the “fruit of the poisonous tree” doctrine.


Whether the officers’ initial failure to read the defendant his Miranda warnings, without more, “tainted” the subsequent confession given by the defendant after he had been advised of, and agreed to waive, his Miranda rights?


No. The officers’ initial failure to read the defendant his Miranda warnings, without more, did not “taint” the subsequent confession.


A police officer’s failure to administer Miranda warnings creates a presumption of compulsion. However, “a procedural Miranda violation differs in significant respects from violations of the Fourth Amendment, which have traditionally mandated a broad application of the ‘fruit of the poisonous tree’ doctrine.” While the defendant’s unwarned statement must be suppressed, “the admissibility of any subsequent statement should turn solely on whether it is knowingly and voluntarily given.” The Court concluded that, “absent deliberately coercive or improper tactics in obtaining the initial statement, the mere fact that a suspect has made an unwarned admission does not warrant a presumption of compulsion” with regard to any subsequent statements. Providing Miranda warnings to a suspect who has previously given a voluntary, but unwarned, statement “ordinarily should suffice to remove the conditions that precluded admission of the earlier statement.”


470 U.S. 298, 105 S. Ct. 1285 (1985)

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