U.S. v. Craighead

Ruling at- http://familyrights.us/bin/caselaw/us_v_craighead_0710135.pdf

Case Name: U.S. v. Craighead, District: 9 Cir , Case #: 07-1-135
Opinion Date: 8/21/2008 , DAR #: 13245
Case Holding:
Interrogations occurring inside the home are custodial, requiring Miranda advisements under the Fifth Amendment, if the circumstances turn it into one of a “police-dominated” atmosphere. After connecting appellant, an electronic warfare technician in the U. S. Air Force, with child pornography following undercover surveillance of child pornography distribution on the internet, an F.B.I. agent obtained a search warrant for his residence. The agent and seven other officers from various agencies, all armed, executed the warrant. During the search, appellant was taken to a storage room and questioned, without first being advised of his Miranda rights. But he was advised that he was not under arrest and was free to leave. One of the officers leaned against the wall during the interview, which lasted approximately 20 to 30 minutes. Appellant admitted that he downloaded child pornography on his computer and stored some if it on a disk. In determining whether the interview was conducted in a police atmosphere, rendering it custodial, the court considered: the number of law enforcement officers present and whether they were armed; whether the suspect was restrained by physical force or threats; whether he was isolated; whether he was told he was free to leave or terminate the interview and the context in which the statements were made. After evaluating these factors, the court determined the interview was custodial and that appellant’s Fifth Amendment rights were violated by the failure to advise him of his Miranda rights, and that his statements should have been suppressed.

U.S. v. Craighead, No. 07-10135 (8-21-08). 

When does in-home questioning by police become custodial for Miranda purposes. Surprisingly, there is little 9th Circuit precedent on this. Thus, this panel from the 9th (Bybee joined by Thomas and Block) do some Miranda housekeeping. Defendant was Air Force personnel stationed on an Air Force base when the FBI investigation (Limewire) led them to suspect he was possessing and trafficking child porn. A search warrant was issued and various law enforcement descended on his home. The police included FBI, Air Force detectives, Pima County detectives and defendant's ranking officer. The police were armed, in flak jackets, and with firearms unholstered. There were 8 in total. Two took defendant to a storage closet in his home for some privacy, stood before the door, said he was free to leave and then questioned him. The district court found this was not custodial. The 9th however, held that Miranda warnings should have been given and suppressed the statements. They did find that the search itself was lawful. In suppressing the statement, the 9th stressed the value the Constitution places on a home (litany of "house" rights in the Constitution) and the fact that Defendant really had no where to go, with his house crawling with law enforcement, in a confined space. The test is always fact intensive, but a court should consider the following factors: (1) the number of law enforcement personnel and whether they were armed; (2) whether the suspect was at any point restrained , either by physical force or by threats; (3) whether the suspect was isolated by others; and (4) whether the suspect was told he was free to leave. The opinion's note 3 lists other factors that other circuits considered, such as "strong-armed" or domineering presence; subterfuge and so forth. Here, the 9th also focused on that Defendant's sergeant was brought along for "moral support" for Defendant but was not permitted to be with him; the concern that Defendant felt with all the different agents swarming around, and his feeling that any agency could arrest him; the lack of access to a door in the small storage room, and the blocking of his exit.

This is a "go to" opinion for in-house questionings that are supposedly non-custodial. As the 9th pointed out, the cops could have read him his rights and be safe.   

Ruling at- http://familyrights.us/bin/caselaw/us_v_craighead_0710135.pdf