View Full Version : Question about fifth amendment laws in this case.

05-12-2016, 12:37 PM
For my story, if the police have audio recorded evidence, of a crook, verbally incriminating himself in crimes, and they want to build a case around this, they will need to match the suspect's voice to the recording as a start. How would they do this though? Does the fifth amendment protect against people from giving voice samples?

The police are allowed to obtain suspects fingerprints and DNA for various reasons, but can those same reasons apply to a suspect having to give a voice sample? Or would the police's only option be to get a wire tap order, to record the person's voice without the person knowing, in order to get a match?

05-12-2016, 04:13 PM
For my story, if the police have audio recorded evidence, of a crook, verbally incriminating himself in crimes, and they want to build a case around this, they will need to match the suspect's voice to the recording as a start. How would they do this though? Does the fifth amendment protect against people from giving voice samples?

Warrant and deposition. Match voice to recording made in interview/interrogation. Evidence gathering is one phase, arguing its admissibility in a court is another. If a suspect refuses DNA exams, you get a warrant. Same with drug testing, blood alcohol, etc.

But a voice match is rarely necessary. Testimony from those present is corroboration. Names used on the tape. Visual surveillance. Nobody just puts a recorder somewhere, grabs a random voice and then tries to prosecute that person. The police already got a warrant for the recording to begin with.

Other scenarios could be a confession or plea based upon the simple fact of recorded evidence. You need to figure out what you need to happen in your story, then write the circumstances to make it happen.


05-12-2016, 04:27 PM
You ask the court for a search warrant for a voice sample. Failure to comply would be contempt of court.

By and large, people are cooperative with various searches of their body when faced with a court order. This includes psychological exams.

Only one that I remember as being a consistent problem was semen samples. This used to be needed in some jurisdictions for matching samples from the victim in rape cases. Guy would be offered a cup and a magazine. But because the defense attorney would prefer not to have his client give a sample, defense attorney would object on religious grounds to masturbation. So the prosecutors would up the ante by suggesting a prostate massage, sometimes showing up in court with the rubber glove. Defense would quickly fold.

Voice samples have been obtained by calling the person and asking the person to respond to a survey. If the investigation warrants the expense, you find the suspect's doughnut shop and work the counter. Get the guy in conversation and record it. In some states, this will need a court order.

Jim Clark-Dawe

05-12-2016, 04:51 PM
I'd argue that a voice print isn't even necessary. If the defendant testifies, the prosecution plays the recording after the jury gets to hear the defendant for a while. I suppose the prosecutor could even compare the recording to, say, a recorded deposition, or the recorded interrogation immediately after arrest.

Voice matching is good, don't get me wrong. But a prosecutor doesn't need it if he or she is confident the jury will match the recording to the defendant.

At the end, what matters is what the jury decides.

Richard White
05-12-2016, 05:13 PM
However, the prosecution is supposed to give a list of ALL evidence it intends to introduce at a trial to the defense. It's not like in Perry Mason where you spring X or Y on a defendant to shock a confession out of them. If the defense knows you're planning on using voice evidence against his client, esp. if it's the hinge pin, it would be a pretty stupid attorney who'd let his client speak at all in the courtroom and I'd fight tooth and nail to keep any other video/audio recordings out of the proceedings. "Your honor, I protest the relevancy of this home video..."

05-12-2016, 08:29 PM
That's what I was thinking. If the defendant knows that he is being arrested based on voice recorded evidence, will the defendant want to open his mouth and say anything knowing that his own voice can be used as a match? What if he wouldn't? Then you just get a warrant to get a voice sample?

Another thing I wanted to ask is, this... the cop's have a recording of a voice incriminating himself in crimes. The cops want a person to match with this voice. They have a suspect, but want the suspect to incriminate himself, in order to get more legal cause to get a voice sample from him, since the police do not have enough proof, and he is just a suspect by suspicion.

So could the police set up a sting operation, where they trick the suspect into thinking that there is recorded evidence of him being kept somewhere? Then they send him into a panic, and he goes to break into a building to steal the recorded evidence, after finding out where it is, so it's not later found by the police.

The police get him on video stealing the recorded evidence, and breaking in to do so. Now the police have evidence of him taking the recording. Can the use this evidence of him stealing it, to get probable cause, that he is the person in the recording? They cannot charge him with breaking in and stealing it cause that would be entrapment, since the police set up an undercover sting operation to manipulate him into doing so.

So they wouldn't charge him on the crimes they set him up to do. But could they use those manipulated crimes of him trying to steal the recording, as evidence to get probable cause, that he is the voice on the recording, and use that probable cause to move further into the case legally, and arrest him?

05-12-2016, 11:55 PM
Evidence is kept in a locked room, secure from access to even the police. You only go in when there's a reason to. There's an NCIS episode involving breaking into an evidence locker. See what was involved and then figure out the real thing is even worse.

Your approach is like your dentist fixing a cavity by going through your anus.

Why not play a portion of the tape to some friends and family and see what they say? Have the victim identify the voice. Procedure is playing the voice of several people, same as a lineup.

Jim Clark-Dawe

05-13-2016, 11:43 AM
Okay thanks. The police would make a copy of the recording of course. One to keep in the locked evidence room, and the other to be used in the sting. The victim cannot identify the voice cause there is no victim that heard the voice in my story though. Friends and family may work though. Thanks.