The New Hampshire state Supreme Court ruled yesterday that state prosecutors cannot use videotaped admissions in a child rape case because the police violated the suspect’s rights while questioning him.
Indisputably, the Defendant was not read his Miranda rights or told that he could have a lawyer. But he was not in custody, because he was told that he was free to leave. To me, this means you are free to leave and are not in custody.
The New Hampshire Supreme Court disagreed, essentially finding that you may not get around Miranda obligations by saying that a person is free to leave when you have that person “in custody.” The court ruled that although “the defendant may not have been placed in handcuffs or any similar device, he was restrained from early on in the encounter.”
Again, this begs the question of whether you can be in custody if you are free to leave. If you are told you are free to leave, wouldn’t a reasonable person at least try to leave? This guy has been accused of abusing four girls. Do we really want to stack the deck against these police officers who obviously were very honest in their report of the interrogation? Or should we err on the side of a confessed child molester? We are talking about four abused children. I cannot see the justice in choosing the latter option. This is coming from someone who is about as liberal as a person could be on how we should be handling criminals in this country. I sure hope the police have enough evidence to get a conviction, anyway.