27. Besides Miranda, Are There Other Restrictions Placed on the Police When They Seek Information from an Arrested Person?
Yes. Confessions that are deemed to be involuntary are not allowed as evidence. Under this rule, the police are not allowed to use brutality, physical threats or other means of intimidation to coerce suspects into confessing. If the police obtain information by any of these illegal means, the information is not admissible, even if a Miranda warning is provided prior to the making of the coerced confession. In addition, under the "fruit of the poisonous tree" rule, any evidence that the police obtain as the result of the coerced confession would be equally inadmissible.
Case Example 1: Clark Kent is arrested for indecent exposure. After he is booked, the police read the Miranda rights to Clark. The police then proceed to question Clark over a 36-hour period, keeping him in solitary confinement when they are not questioning him and withholding almost all food and water. Clark finally agrees to talk to the police and confesses to the crime.
Question: Are Clark's statements admissible in evidence?
Answer: No. Clark did not freely and voluntarily waive his Miranda rights, because the interrogation methods were highly coercive.
Case Example 2: Moe Money is charged with obtaining money by fraudulent means. Following the Miranda warning, Moe voluntarily agrees to talk to the police and denies any fraudulent conduct. The police then tell Moe that they will arrest his wife and bring her to the station for questioning. Moe tells the police that his wife is pregnant but very ill, and has been instructed by her doctor to remain in bed as much as possible to protect her health and that of the baby. The police tell Moe that's his problem, they're going to arrest his wife unless he confesses and "the health of your wife and your kid is up to you."
Question: If Moe then confesses, is the confession admissible in evidence?
Answer: No. Moe's confession was involuntary. This is especially true if the police lacked probable cause to arrest Moe's wife and threatened to arrest her only to coerce Moe into talking. （See Rogers v. Richmond, U.S. Sup. Ct. 1961.）
Cops Usually Win "Swearing Contests"
Defendants' claims that they were coerced into talking often turn into swearing contests, with the police contending that everything was honest and above board. Defendants who are physically coerced by police into talking can support their claims with photos of marks and bruises. But actual police brutality is unusual, and defendants cannot usually offer independent evidence to support their claims of psychological coercion. Judges, believing that defendants have a greater motivation to lie than police officers, usually side with the police and conclude that no coercion took place.