Sunday, November 17, 2013

United States v. Beard case brief

United States v. Beard case brief summary
119 Fed.Appx. 462 (2005)

The police arrested defendant after he admitted owning an illegal, sawed-off shotgun. Defendant moved to suppress his confession on the ground that he had not received proper Miranda warnings. The United States filed an interlocutory appeal pursuant to 18 U.S.C.S. § 3731 after the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, at Richmond, granted defendant's motion and ordered the confession to be suppressed.

The police went to defendant's home to investigate a domestic disturbance complaint. They were told that defendant had threatened his sister with a gun; they discovered the shotgun in a van parked outside. The officers informed defendant of his "rights" and then questioned him about the gun. He confessed that the gun was his and that he was a convicted felon. Defendant moved to suppress his confession. The distinct court found that defendant was in custody for Miranda purposes and that the United States had not proved that proper Miranda warnings were given.

The court held that the district court had applied the wrong legal test when making its custody finding; it should have examined whether defendant felt that his freedom was substantially curtained and whether, based upon a totality of the circumstances, a reasonable person would have believed that he was in custody.


  • No Miranda violation occurred because defendant was not in custody when he was questioned; he was questioned in his own home, he was not handcuffed or restrained, and the officers did not threaten or intimidate him in any way. 
  • The fact that some warnings were given did not per se render the questioning custodial.

The court reversed the district court's suppression order and remanded the case back for further proceedings.

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