RI: Admissions made when signing consent to search form weren’t during “custodial interrogation”

Defendant made admissions when signing the consent to search form, and he was not in custody at the time. State v. Sabourin, 2017 R.I. LEXIS 82 (June 9, 2017):

The defendant made other statements while he was in the process of signing the consent-to-search form. The record reveals that, while the detective was attempting to read the form with him, defendant was continuously talking over him, trying to explain what happened. He kept repeating the same story that “[the complaining witness] came to [his] house drunk *** [and] kept taking her clothes off.” Again, it is our opinion that these statements were voluntary and unsolicited by the detectives because there was no questioning of defendant. And “[a]ny statement given freely and voluntarily without any compelling influences is, of course, admissible in evidence.” Innis, 446 U.S. at 299-300 (quoting Miranda, 384 U.S. at 478). Significantly, there was testimony that one detective told defendant that he should not say anything.

After he signed the form, defendant asked the detectives what they were searching for. When one of the detectives indicated that they were going to seize the bedsheets, defendant uttered that they “were not going to like what [they] found on the sheets.” This statement also was not invited by the detectives. In response to defendant’s unprompted statement, the detective said, “What do you mean?”—to which defendant answered that the complaining witness “was in the bedroom and had been playing with herself.” The detective would not have asked this question if defendant had not first provoked him with his statement. Accordingly, we are of the opinion that the detective’s question was, again, merely an instinctive reaction to defendant’s voluntary statement; it was by no means an interrogation on the part of the detectives.

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