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Functional Equivalent of Interrogation

State v. Ondra Bond, 2000 WI App 118, 237 Wis. 2d 633, 614 NW2d 552, affirmed by equally divided vote2001 WI 56, 243 Wis. 2d 476, 627 N.W.2d 484
For Bond: William Coleman; Janet Barnes; Ellen Henak, SPD, Milwaukee Appellate

Issue: Whether, following arrest but before administration of Miranda rights, an officer’s response to the suspect’s asking why he’d been arrested was the functional equivalent of interrogation and therefore in violation of Miranda.

Holding: The officer’s provocative comment, which addressed a specific factual allegation about the crime, was the functional equivalent of interrogation and Bond’s response was therefore suppressible.

Bond was arrested for intimidation of a witness, based on a phone call during which the caller said he was “the man behind the man.” Bond asked why he was being arrested, adding, “oh, you’re the man” when told he’d find out in a few minutes. The officer then said, “no, I’m the man behind the man,” to which Bond responded, “oh, that is what this is about.” This all occurred before any rights were given or waived. Because it’s clear that the officer wasn’t interrogating Bond in any formal sense, the question becomes whether his comment was the functional equivalent of interrogation. The court of appeals spells out five relevant factors relevant to this question, all of which support functional interrogation under the facts. ¶¶15-20. Interrogation means, in addition to express questioning, any words or actions other than those normally attendant to arrest and custody that the officer should have known was reasonably likely to elicit an incriminating response. ¶¶16-17. Specific knowledge about the suspect may indicate that the officer should have known that his/her conduct would have the force of interrogation. ¶17. Though the test is objective, the officer’s intent may be relevant; another officer testified that the comment seemed designed to elicit an incriminating response. ¶18. The comment was especially provocative. ¶19. The comment was made directly to Bond. ¶20.

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