Tuesday, April 12, 2011

In Custody Or Not?

State v. Cam, no. 10-0953 (Iowa Ct. App. March 30, 2011)

Cam approached a police officer and said he might have sexually assaulted his stepdaughter. He was escorted to an interview room in the Sioux Center police station and there read his Mirandas-although Cam disagrees with this. Cam was then interviewed but afterwards he sat in the police station for another 46 minutes, neither cuffed or restrained. Cam then left the police station under his own power.

Cam was charged with assault to commit sexual abuse and moved to suppress his admissions. The district court granted his motion to suppress, finding that he was in custody and his waiver of his rights was not knowingly and intelligently made. The state appealed.

The Iowa Court of Appeals reversed, holding that Cam was not in custody as that term has been interpreted by the Iowa courts. Iowa law provides a four part test to determine whether a reasonable person would have understood his situation to be a deprivation of his freedom of action in any significant way. They are:
  • the language used to summon the suspect
  • the purpose, place and manner of interrogation
  • the extent to which the defendant is confronted with evidence of his guilt
  • whether the defendant is free to leave the place of questioning.


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