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Media > Newsletters > Law Enforcement Bulletin > August 2013 > Interrogations: State of Ohio v. Tullis

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Interrogations: State of Ohio v. Tullis

Question: Do you have to give Miranda warnings to suspects who voluntarily come to the police station for an interview, but who are not in custody?
Quick Answer: No, Miranda is only required for custodial interrogation.

State of Ohio v. Tullis, Second Appellate District, Greene County, July 12, 2013
Facts: Police asked Damerick Tullis to come to the station to discuss a voyeurism case. He met two detectives there, and they took him to an interview room. Detectives Daniel Foreman and Ryan Whittaker told Tullis he was not under arrest and could leave at any time. Although the room’s door locked automatically, it was left open during the interview, except for once being briefly closed because of noise in the hallway. The detectives questioned Tullis about an incidents of voyeurism and reports of him peering into neighbors’ windows. Tullis confessed to the incident and later confessed to additional incidents of voyeurism, burglary, kidnapping, and rape. The interview lasted two hours and, when it was complete, he left. Tullis was indicted a few months later.
The court determined Miranda warnings were not necessary because Tullis was not in custody during the interview. He was told he could leave at any time, was not handcuffed, was allowed to keep his cell phone, was able to take breaks, did not ask to leave, and did not ask for an attorney. Also, the door to the room was open for most of the interview. The court stated that under these circumstances, a reasonable person would believe he was free to leave.
Importance: It is a good practice to make clear to an individual in a voluntary interview that they are not in custody, just as the detectives did in this case. Of course, if there’s any doubt about whether the interview is going to be custodial, you should err on the side of caution and Mirandize the suspect. You work hard to get a confession, so do everything possible to make sure it sticks.
Keep in Mind: A videotape of the interrogation was the key to winning this case. Consider videotaping your interviews, and make sure the picture and sound are of good quality.
Other Cases to Consider
  • Can I get a time out? Re-Mirandizing after a break: You are interrogating a suspect and need a break. Do you have to re-Mirandize the suspect when you start the interrogation again? It depends. Consider the length of the interupation and the circumstances for the break. For example, the Third District recently said detectives did not have to re-Mirandize the suspect when the detective decided to take a break and the suspect asked to continue the interrogation. Additionally, the suspect had not left the police station, and the police believed the second interrogation was a continuation of the first. If you are ever in doubt, take 30 seconds and re-Mirandize the suspect. (State v. Branch,  Third Appellate District, Allen County, July 22, 2013)
  • Lying to get a confession? Not a good idea: You think you have the perpetrator of a crime, but he doesn’t want to play ball and denies every allegation you throw at him. Can you entice a confession based on false promises that the suspect will receive leniency in his sentence for his confession? The detective in State of Ohio v. Rybarczyk was found to be out of line in telling Jason Rybarczyk he could get probation for rape and that he was trying to throw Rybarczyk a “lifeline” by saving him from jail. This promise was found to have coerced the suspect’s confession, making the confession involuntary and prompting the court to suppress it. Remember, it is fine to remind a suspect of the benefits of confession and the possibility of a shorter sentence — as long as it is true. The problem in this case was the detective promised probation when probation is not an option in a rape case. (State of Ohio v. Rybarczyk, Sixth Appellate District, Wood County, July 5, 2013)
  • Where’s my mommy? Mirandizing a juvenile suspect: As you know, a juvenile suspect is entitled to have a parent and attorney present at arraignment, trial, or sentencing, which are stages of the proceedings. However, did you know this rule does not apply to Mirandizing a juvenile suspect? In In re T.J., the court said Miranda warnings are not part of the proceedings covered by Ohio Revised Code Section 2151.352, as those proceedings only begin after a complaint has been filed or the juvenile suspect makes an appearance in court. (In re T.J., Sixth Appellate District, Lucas County, July 12, 2013)