Miranda Warnings: When to Readmonish

by Charles Gillingham

The author recently had the occasion to assist officers with a question. It is one that hadn't come up for the author before so it seemed like a good topic for the informed officer to review. The question was this: A suspect was arrested earlier in the day, approximately four hours before, he had waived his Miranda rights and given a statement. A different officer wanted to speak with the suspect about a different crime. The question was whether the new officer had to give the suspect Miranda warnings. Obviously, the safe answer is yes. The case law, however, is no.

The Court in People v. Lewis (2001) 26 Cal. 4th 334, looked at this question. In that case, Detective Lean read the suspect his rights at around 12:30 p.m. Investigator Martin, who was advised the suspect had been admonished and waived, did not readmonish the suspect five hours later. The suspect confessed. The Court found that readvisement is unnecessary where the subsequent interrogation is reasonably contemporaneous with the prior knowing and intelligent waiver. The courts examine the totality of the circumstances, including the time passed since the waiver, any change in the identity of the interrogator, the location of the interview, any reminder of the prior advisement, and the suspect's past experience with law enforcement.

The Court in People v. Williams (2010) 49 Cal.4th 405 Another case found that 40 hours was not too long. In that case the court restated the test above and found that the two interviews were in the same location and was carried out by the same interrogator. The court also found that the suspect had substantial experience with the criminal justice system having been interrogated before, thus lessening any effect the lack of a subsequent admonishment may have had.

Another case, however, found that three days was too long between advisements as it was not close enough in time. People v. Quirk (1982) 129 Cal.App.3d 618.

For our out of California readers, the United States Supreme Court in Colorado v. Spring (1987) 479 U.S. 564, similarly found that a subsequent interview on the same day may cover a different topic and there would be no need for a new advisement.

Most cases have found there is no need for a subsequent admonishment when the subsequent interrogation takes place at the same place, relatively contemporaneously to the first, and the interrogators are the same. It is critical for officers, as always, to document these facts. If it isn't written, it didn't happen. Be safe.