Blogs > The Law Blogger

The Law Blogger is a law-related blog that informs and discusses current matters of legal interest to readers of The Oakland Press and to consumers of legal services in the community. We hope readers will  find it entertaining but also informative. The Law Blogger does not, however, impart legal advice, as only attorneys are licensed to provide legal counsel.
For more information email:

Friday, September 20, 2013

Police Required to Record Interrogation in Major Felonies

When we represent an individual accused of committing a major felony, we are mindful of the new statute in Michigan requiring police to record a custodial interrogation of that individual.  Although the statute took effect last March, some local law enforcement agencies have not been able to comply with the law due to funding limitations and budget cuts.

The express wording of the statute requires the police to make a time-stamped audio-visual recording of the entire custodial interrogation, including the Miranda warning component of the interrogation.  The statute also requires that equipment be utilized in this process that prevents editing or altering the original content of the recording.

When the police conduct a custodial interrogation for a major felony they are not required to secure the consent of the suspect, nor are they required to inform the suspect of the recording.  If the suspect objects to the recording, that is noted, and the interrogation continues unless the suspect invokes a right to have an attorney present.

Major felonies are defined in the new law as any felony that has life imprisonment, or a maximum punishment of 20-years; this includes Criminal Sexual Conduct in the 3rd degree [i.e. victim between age of 13 and 16].  In our experience with such cases, most interrogations have long been recorded.

Making a recording helps the system to the extent that such a recording makes compelling evidence at a criminal trial.  If the suspect confesses, then "the cloth is cut" as we say in the criminal defense bar.  When an accused's confession is recorded, and the criminal defense lawyer is unable to suppress the recording, a guilty plea usually results.

On the other hand, sometimes the recording depicts an individual ardently asserting their innocence, non-involvement, or an alibi.  Once produced, as required by the new statute, the defense attorney is entitled to a copy of the recorded statement.

If local law enforcement is unable to produce the major felony recording, either due to malfunctioning equipment [happens more than you would think] or because there is no equipment due to budget cuts, then the defendant is entitled to a jury instruction advising the jurors of the statutory requirement for a recording, and further advising jurors they can take the missing recording into account.

A more effective remedy, from the criminal defense perspective, is the preclusion of the substance of any unrecorded statement into evidence during the trial.  The best evidence is the actual recording of the accused's statement, not the officer's summary or re-telling of such a statement.

Labels: , , , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home