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Custody — Handcuffed in Squad

State v. Zan Morgan, 2002 WI App 124
For Morgan: Timothy A. Provis

Issue: Whether Morgan was in custody, for Miranda purposes, after being handcuffed and placed in the back of a squad car.

Holding: Custody is determined under “the totality of the circumstances, including such factors as: the defendant’s freedom to leave; the purpose, place, and length of the interrogation; and the degree of restraint.” ¶12, citing State v. Gruen, 218 Wis. 2d 581, 594, 582 N.W.2d 728 (Ct. App. 1998). (“When considering the degree of restraint, we consider: whether the suspect is handcuffed, whether a weapon is drawn, whether a frisk is performed, the manner in which the suspect is restrained, whether the suspect is moved to another location, whether questioning took place in a police vehicle, and the number of officers involved.”) Taking into account the idea that a Terry stop is not inconsistent with a triggering of Miranda rights, ¶16, Morgan was in custody for Miranda purposes:

¶17. Applying the factors we articulated in Gruen, we conclude that a reasonable person in Morgan’s situation would have considered himself or herself in custody given the degree of restraint. The court found that the time between when he was handcuffed and when he was asked the question about the blunt was “very short” and, while there is no direct testimony on that time span, it is reasonable to infer from the record that the duration was not such as to weigh in favor of a conclusion of “in custody.” However, we conclude that other factors would lead a reasonable person in Morgan’s situation to believe he or she was in custody. Morgan was handcuffed; he was frisked; he was put handcuffed in a squad car with another suspect and then, upon the arrival of another squad car, the other suspect was put in that squad car so that Morgan was alone; and there were five officers on the scene at the time of questioning, including Smith. Although no gun was drawn on Morgan in the squad car, Officers Whyte and Smith had both drawn their guns on Morgan when he entered the apartment. The questioning of Morgan took place in a squad car, which, based on Officer Whyte’s own testimony, Morgan could not leave. Only a single question is involved on this appeal, but the question directly asks about Morgan’s connection to contraband found in the car Morgan was entering.

The court alludes to, but doesn’t attempt to resolve, the tension between the degree of force increasingly permissible for a Terry stop, and the triggering of Miranda rights. ¶13 n. 7. It doesn’t follow, in other words, that just because Morgan was “in custody” for Miranda purposes that he would also be deemed under arrest for purposes of a fourth amendment challenge. See also ¶14, to effect that Morgan doesn’t raise a fourth amendment challenge. And for a lengthy discussion of the factors determining when a Terry-type stop rises to the level of Miranda-triggering custody, see U.S. v. Newton, 2nd Cir. No. 02-1310, 5/26/04, stressing in particular the role of handcuffing:

Handcuffs are generally recognized as a hallmark of a formal arrest…. Thus, a reasonable person finding himself placed in handcuffs by the police would ordinarily conclude that his detention would not necessarily be temporary or brief and that his movements were now totally under the control of the police – in other words, that he was restrained to a degree normally associated with formal arrest and, therefore, in custody.We do not overlook the fact that Newton was specifically advised that he was not being placed under arrest and that the restraints were being employed simply to ensure his own safety and that of the officers. But telling a suspect that he is not under arrest does not carry the same weight in determining custody when he is in handcuffs as it does when he is unrestrained….

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