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Sarita
12-20-2008, 09:09 PM
Quick question.

Would the police take someone in for questioning in this situation?

A murder occurs on someone's land in the middle of the night. The police go question the elderly land owners around 6am, after conducting crime scene work, to find out if they saw or heard anything. The wife wakes up while they're there, saying she dreamt that so-and-so was murdered, but her version of the murder doesn't match up at all with the actual evidence.

Would she be taken in for questioning because she knew of the murder? Or would they let it go because she has no real evidence of the murder, just a dream?

Ucla_sb
12-20-2008, 09:38 PM
I used to be a police officer so maybe i can help. Did she know of the person murdered? Was it the same person as in the dream? If so yes she would be taken in for probably light questioning and to write a statement that may be useless since it was a dream. But regardless the land owners would be asked for a statement even just to say they dont know anything since it was their land.

Sarita
12-20-2008, 09:44 PM
I used to be a police officer so maybe i can help. Did she know of the person murdered? Was it the same person as in the dream? If so yes she would be taken in for probably light questioning and to write a statement that may be useless since it was a dream. But regardless the land owners would be asked for a statement even just to say they dont know anything since it was their land.
She did know the person murdered. And it was the same person she dreamt of. Basically, the police were asking questions of the husband before saying the victim was murdered (where were you last night, did you hear or see anything unusual, when was the last time you saw so-and-so.) When the wife woke up, she just flat out said "He was murdered up by the lake and this is how it happened."

But it wasn't how it happened, and that was really obvious by way of the evidence.

Okay, so they would take them into the station, get a statement from them, probably have a good chuckle at her expense and let them go?

Ucla_sb
12-20-2008, 10:04 PM
more than likely. the golden rule we went by was to get peoples statements to "tie" them to their story in case it changed later.

Sarita
12-20-2008, 10:06 PM
more than likely. the golden rule we went by was to get peoples statements to "tie" them to their story in case it changed later.
Excellent. This is how I wrote it, but in a sudden flash of panic, I began to doubt myself. :)

Ucla_sb
12-20-2008, 10:34 PM
coolness, good luck!

Horseshoes
12-22-2008, 06:33 AM
Sari, yes they'd certainly get a statement, preferably recorded which will later be transcribed, but the phrase 'take someone in' implies custody and they would not want to create a custodial situation. It would require them to Mirandize and then get her waiver of the Miranda rights. She won't be 'taken in' to a po-po station in a po-po car. A taped statement in her living room without hubby or anyone else present.

Snowstorm
12-22-2008, 08:09 AM
I hope it's okay with Saritams8 if I ask Ucla_sb and Horseshoes some questions. (If so, thank you.) I left a message a week ago to the chief of police of the university where my novel is set and the chief hasn't responded yet.

- Would an officer take a witness (who the police suspect is the killer but there's no hard evidence yet) into custody at the police station, or as Horseshoes mentioned, take her (the killer) statement at her home?

- If you take someone into custody, that custodial situation requires the police to read Miranda rights. If the witness chooses to talk, they have to waive those rights. Correct?

- The witness' written statement: is it on any paper, like a standard note pad, or are there forms for such statements?

Thank you!

Rabe
12-22-2008, 08:50 AM
I hope it's okay with Saritams8 if I ask Ucla_sb and Horseshoes some questions. (If so, thank you.) I left a message a week ago to the chief of police of the university where my novel is set and the chief hasn't responded yet.

Let me see if I can speak about both these situations with this one post. So yours and the original post.


- Would an officer take a witness (who the police suspect is the killer but there's hard evidence yet) into custody at the police station, or as Horseshoes mentioned, take her (the killer) statement at her home?

Neither person would be 'taken in' at this point. There isn't enough evidence to justify an arrest in both situations as presented thus far. For the old lady and the dream - the police may even consider that she got up, saw some things but not enough to be accurate and then went back to bed and 'forgot' she was up. So in neither of these cases would the police want to create a custodial situation where Miranda may apply. And taking the 'suspects' out of their homes and down to the station would go a long way to creating a custodial situation. Which then means any questioning done is *AFTER* Miranda.

If, for whatever reason, the detectives (or person handling the murder and if it's not a detective, why the hell not?) wanted the person at the station when they TALK with them, they'll ASK them to come down to the station WHEN IT'S CONVENIENT FOR THEM! The more elements they can get rid of to show it's NOT a custodial arrangement goes a long way to getting rid of that pesky Miranda issue.

The detective will also probably be very genial about the whole situation and mention several times "You're free to leave anytime you like". Plus, it won't be in a sparse room with the 'mirror' going on. There won't be a lot of people in and around the room. Most likely just one detective at a time.
He'll ask if he can do things like record the conversation and make sure that the responses are "yes, you may do so" and still let the person he's TALKING with know they're free to leave several times on the recording. (Of course the room is probably also video/audio recorded anyway).

If he scrupously honors such things, then Miranda won't apply. In order to attach Miranda both custody and interrogation need to be present. You can have custody but no interrogation (which is why I cringe when I see people being arrested for something and then being given Miranda as they're being loaded into the police car). You can have interrogation but not custody. (my last felony arrest, this is probably going to come up as a defense attorney issue...I think I've done a good job of showing that there was questioning but NOT custody. And once there WAS custody there was no more questions asked OF HER! Though she did have to ask right before I left if she was going to be in jail. She asked this after she'd been changed into an inmate uniform and put into a jail cell after being booked. So uhm...yeah. She was going to stay in jail.)


- If you take someone into custody, that custodial situation requires the police to read Miranda rights. If the witness chooses to talk, they have to waive those rights. Correct?

NO! INCORRECT (sometimes)! See the above about what is required of Miranda.

If Officer Friendly and Officer Courteous arrive at the suspect's house to arrest them on a warrant for the murder of Mr. Body, then them reading Miranda rights as they're arresting and transporting Mr. Suspect will probably get them a severe ass-kicking from the lead detective.

Now, if the detective comes in and talks to Mr. Suspect about the crime for which they were arrested...then they will need to give them Miranda and seek a waiver of those rights. Mostly this is done through both a recording AND a written waiver of rights. Just to make sure there is no funny business at the other end of the trial.

Either way, though, unsolicited comments can still be used against them. As long as they are unsolicited. I'm transporting Mr. Suspect to the jail on suspicion of murdering Mr. Body and I'm talking about the joyful talents of my cat Mr. Bootbuttons and suddenly Mr. Suspect says "you know, I never knew a person would bleed so much when you stuck them in the abdomen with a paring knife". Will I be making a report on this and giving it to the detectives? You betcha! And if Mr. Body was killed by being stabbed in the abdomen by a paring knife will the detective give this to the DA in order to have that statement used against Mr. Suspect?

Oh yeah you betcha!

Now, if I were talking about the dangers of paring knives...this becomes dicey.

And biographical/medical data asked at booking? Yeah...Miranda doesn't apply there. But still, Mr. Suspect makes statements such as "I'd like to use the bathroom to wash all this blood off my hands" will again be admissable. Per the rules above.


- The witness' written statement: is it on any paper, like a standard note pad, or are there forms for such statements?

Thank you!

It can be written on anything. But most agencies have premade witness statement forms that include loads of information the police may need when they do their report. Which could be some time after they had contact with the person making the statement. It also has a place for the person to sign that they wrote that statement. Which has become important in courts.

I hope this helps both posters.

Rabe...

Snowstorm
12-22-2008, 09:05 AM
Wow, Rabe, thank you! I appreciate all the time and effort you took to answer. I've read this twice and will reread until I'm sure of everything you wrote. There is a lot here to digest in the exact process, how it relates to what I've written, and what I may need to rewrite! Thank you again.