Debate and Discussion! Thanks so Much!Can You Imagine you are on patrol and stop a vehicle for going through a stop sign. The vehicle is occupied by two adult males. The vehicle license plate and...

Debate and Discussion! Thanks so Much!

Can You Imagine you are on patrol and stop a vehicle for going through a stop sign. The vehicle is occupied by two adult males. The vehicle license plate and V.I.N. number comes back stolen and you arrest both subjects. You do not ask them any questions or read them their Miranda rights. You place both subjects in the back seat of your patrol car, leave a digital voice recording device on, and exit your patrol vehicle to assist in searching the stolen vehicle before it is towed and impounded. After you return to your patrol vehicle, you replay the recorder. The digital recorder has recorded both subjects discussing how they stole the vehicle.  Is the recorded conversation between the subjects legal evidence? why or why not and can you site any applicable case law to support your conclusions.!!

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I like the previous thoughts and the analysis that goes along with it.  My area of confusion is my own, but in the text it indicates that the subjects were arrested.  It seems to me that if an individual is arrested on ground of probable cause, meaning if the handcuffs are slapped on them, a Miranda reading is almost absolute.  The accused is being taken in for, presumably, more questioning and on more than just a hunch or something, so Mirandizing them would be critical.  I agree with the reasonable expectation of privacy argument as not being applicable in the back of a squad car, but I am stuck on the idea of being arrested and not being read their rights.  I think that it might be different if they were asked to sit in the back of a squad car as the vehicle issue was being addressed, but the text to me says, "you arrest both subjects."  I think this is where I feel a Miranda issuance has to be present.

brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Miranda doesn't apply in this case since neither of the men have been placed under arrest or questioned directly by the officer.  This technique is often used once subjects have been arrested and taken to the station house.  Any conversation within a law enforcement venue - vehicle, stationhouse, prison cell, etc. - is not a private one, and may be monitored without a search warrant or prior notification in most cases.

Any attorney will tell a client that the very best thing they can do for their legal defense is shut up.  :-)  If anything you say can and will be used against you, then why say anything, to anyone, until you have an attorney present?

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In my opinion, this would hinge on whether a court would say that the two men had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the back of the police car.  Should they expect that they would not be overheard or should they expect that they would be?

The Miranda warnings shouldn't matter here because the men are not being questioned by anyone.  They are simply talking to one another.

My feeling is that the men would not have a reasonable expectation of privacy.  They are in a police car and it is not unreasonable to think that conversations in a police car might be taped or overheard.  So I would say what you did is probably going to be okay.

dano7744 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When police officers effect an arrest (take the suspects in to custody), they are required to Mirandize them. The officer in your scenario failed to do so.

The recordings in this situation are NOT admissible because the police officer did not follow protocol. If the officer would have read them their rights per Miranda, then the recordings would in fact be admissible in court. Their is no expectation of privacy in the back of a patrol car. Just like their is no expectation of privacy while incarcerated. The only exception to this rule is when the suspect is speaking with his attorney, then an expectation of privacy is applicable.