Michigan v. Mosley

Michigan v. Mosley Case Brief

United States Supreme Court
423 U.S. 96 (1975)

ISSUE: Do police have to cease questioning forever after a suspect invokes his right to remain silent on certain subjects during questioning?
  • D was arrested in connection with robberies that had occurred at a bar and restaurant
  • Arresting officer took D to the police station, gave him his rights, and had him sign a card waiving those rights
  • During questioning, D indicated that he didn't want to talk about the robberies, and the officer immediately ceased questioning
  • Later than evening, a different officer intended to question D about a separate homicide and gave D his rights and obtained his signature on a card
  • After the 2nd officer told D that someone implicated him in the homicide (which wasn't true), D gave a full confession
  • D was charged with 1st-degree murder
  • D moved to suppress statements because he had invoked his rights during the 1st interrogation -- Trial Ct. denied motion to suppres
  • Convicted of murder 1
  • Miranda v. Arizona: If the individual indicates in any manner, at any time prior to or during questioning, that he wishes to remain silent, the interrogation must cease.
  • No broad per se rules: Police do not have to permanently refrain from questioning the suspect following an invocation of rights, nor can they resume after a momentary respite
  • Standard: Admissibility of statements obtained after a person in custody has decided to remain silent depends on whether his right to cut off questioning was "scrupulously honored"
  • D's right respected: D's right to cut off questioning was fully respected in this case
    • Read his full rights
    • Interval of 2 hours passed between interrogations
    • Questioned about a separate and unrelated crime
  • Admissibility of statements made after invocation of rights should depend on a voluntariness inquiry
    • Repeated rounds of questioning will just weight heavily against a finding of voluntariness
    • Miranda should not be used as guiding doctrine for this issue
  • Mosley answers the question of when an invocation of the right to remain silent ends. The Mosley rule is essentially upon invocation of the right to remain silent (vs. the right to counsel), the police must immediately stop questioning, wait 2 hours, and then resume questioning about a different crime.
  • The "2 hours" is not exactly in the text of the opinion, but those are the facts on which the decision is based. Technically a resumption of questioning after a period under 2 hours might not violate Miranda so long as the suspect's rights are "scrupulously honored." Nevertheless, 2 hours is a good rule of thumb.
  • It's worth emphasizing that the Mosley rule only applies to the right to remain silent. The right to assistance of counsel during question has no such time limit (while in custody). For that rule, see Edwards v. Arizona.


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