People v. Buschauer, 2016 IL App (1st) 142766 (February 2016). (Episode 143 Duration 4:27)
The trial court’s finding was against the manifest weight of the evidence in that a reasonable person would have felt free to leave at any point during the interrogation.
Defendant calls the police to tell them his wife has drowned in the tub. Defendant is transported to a police station where he is interrogated for 13 hours.
He is not formally arrested nor charged. 13 years later they charge him.
Trial Court Suppresses
The trial court suppressed his original statement because it was at a
(i) police station
(ii) duration (13 hours);
(iii) mood (“focused, persistent, and unrelenting”);
(iv) police presence (two State Police officers);
(v) the absence of family and friends; and
(vi) the police attitude of subjectively viewing him as a suspect.
The fundamental question to be answered is if a reasonable person would have felt free to leave.
The Illinois Supreme Court identified several factors relevant to objectively assessing the circumstances at the interrogation:
1. Location, time, length, mood, and mode of questioning;
2. Number of police officers present during interrogation;
3. Presence or absence of family and friends of the accused;
4. Indicia of formal arrest procedure, such as the show of weapons or force, physical restraint, booking or fingerprinting;
5. Manner by which accused arrived at the place of questioning; and
6. Age, intelligence, and mental makeup of the accused.
The court will also look at
(i) the intent of the officer;
(ii) the understanding of the accused;
(iii) the accused being informed either that or he she could leave or was under arrest;
(iv) the probability of restraint of accused had he or she attempted to leave;
(v) length of time of interrogation; and
(iv) the giving of Miranda warnings. The record indicates the tone as “conversational.”
Trial Court Reversed
The reviewing court found the presumption expressed in the trial court’s order unsupported by the evidence.
Additionally, defendant’s age and intelligence was not a neutral factor but weighed heavily against an arrest.
Simply giving Miranda warnings as a precautionary measure does not transform an investigative interrogation into a custodial interrogation.
Examining the factors of the intent of the officers; the understanding of the defendant; whether the defendant was told he was free to leave or that he was under arrest; whether the defendant would have been restrained if he had attempted to leave; the length of the interrogation; and whether Miranda warnings were given, we find that a reasonable individual, innocent of wrongdoing, would have felt free to leave.