After a robbery, an incarcerated individual told police that he had heard that the defendant was involved. Based on this information, two officers arrested the defendant without a warrant, searched him, fingerprinted him, questioned him, and placed him a lineup. Subsequently, the police matched the defendant’s fingerprints with those found on items that had been handled by one of the robbers. Once told of this, the defendant waived his rights and confessed. A court found that the tip from the incarcerated individual was insufficient to give police probable cause to obtain a warrant or to arrest petitioner.
Whether the confession obtained from the defendant was the fruit of an illegal seizure?
Yes. The initial fingerprints, which were themselves the fruit of an illegal arrest, and which were used to extract a confession from petitioner, were not sufficiently attenuated to break the connection between the illegal arrest and the confession.
The Court held that a confession obtained through custodial interrogation after an illegal arrest should be excluded unless intervening events break the causal connection between the illegal arrest and the confession. The Court identified several factors that should be considered in determining whether a confession has been purged of the taint of the illegal arrest: time between the arrest and the confession, the presence of intervening circumstances, and, particularly, the purpose and flagrancy of the official misconduct. The government bears the burden of proving that a confession is admissible.
Here, there was no meaningful intervening event. The illegality of the initial arrest was not cured by the facts that six hours elapsed between the arrest and confession, that the confession was “voluntary” for Fifth Amendment purposes because Miranda warnings were given; that the defendant was permitted a short visit with his girlfriend; or that the police did not physically abuse petitioner. Nor was the fact that an arrest warrant, based on a comparison of fingerprints, was filed after the defendant had been arrested.
457 U.S. 687, 102 S. Ct. 2664 (1982)