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Rhode Island v. Innis, 100 S. Ct. 1682 (1980).

The analysis of any issue regarding interrogation must begin with the landmark decision of Miranda v. Arizona, which established procedural safeguards to prevent self-incrimination by persons subjected to arrest and detainment by police. These “Miranda warnings” were designed to protect an individual from incriminating himself, either inadvertently or through duress, in a police-dominated atmosphere. The Supreme Court found the basis for these safeguards in the fifth amendment to the United States Constitution which provides that “[n]o person … shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself,” and in the sixth amendment which requires that “[i]n all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall … have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence [sic].”

The maxim implicit in the fifth amendment, nemo tenetur seipsum accusare, or “no one is bound to accuse himself,” came into existence as a result of the early methods of interrogation in England which assumed an inquisitorial character, and the efforts of the Framers to prevent such methods from becoming entrenched in American jurisprudence.

Although times have changed since physical force was used to extract confessions from an accused, other subtle, but equally effective, psychological tactics are still in existence and are harder to remove from the investigative process. The use of these psychological ploys led the Supreme Court to include such tactics in the Miranda concept of interrogation. In Miranda, the Court expressed a concern for “this [psychological] interrogation atmosphere and the evils it can bring.” This casenote will analyze the Supreme Court’s holding in Rhode Island v. Innis in which the Court defined the term “interrogation” as used in Miranda. The casenote begins with the relevant factual position and the Court’s holding, followed by an analysis of that holding.

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