Question: When you take multiple suspects into custody, should you immediately read the suspects their Miranda rights before asking anyquestions?
Quick answer: Yes, probably. This helps avoid violating a suspect’s right against self-incrimination.
Facts: Several cruisers pulled over a known stolen vehicle. Officers told all five suspects in the car to get out and lie down on their stomachs, with their heads pointing away from the car. None of the officers gave the suspects a Miranda warning. In “a loud and controlling voice,” one officer asked the front-seat passenger if he had any weapons on him. At that point, Hoskins, who was lying on the opposite side of the car near the backseat, rolled over and admitted to another officer that he had a gun in the waistband of his pants. Hoskins was charged with carrying a concealed weapon and improperly handling a firearm in a motor vehicle.
Why the case is important: Because Hoskins was told to lie on the ground while surrounded by officers, the Ohio court held that he was in “custody.” The court explained that the officers should have given Hoskins and the other suspects a Miranda warning before asking anysuspect a question. It held that it was reasonable for Hoskins to think he was being asked about weapons. Since he had not been given a Miranda warning, his admission was not “voluntary.” Rather, it was an answer to one officer’s loudly asked question. Here, the police violated Hoskins’ Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, so his statement was suppressed.
One judge dissented and found that the officers had reasonable suspicion to ask about weapons: The officers pulled over a known stolen vehicle; it was after dark; and the arrest was in a high-crime area known for drugs, gangs, and gun violence.
Keep in mind: Asking a global question — or even what a court might interpret as a global question — to multiple suspects without giving a Miranda warning can lead to suppression of the statements and possible dismissal of the case.
to read entire opinion.