452 A.2d 992 (Md.App. 1982), 185, Marrs v. State

Docket Nº:185.
Citation:452 A.2d 992, 53 Md.App. 230
Opinion Judge:[10] Morton
Party Name:Gerald Lawrence MARRS v. STATE of Maryland.
Attorney:[7] David P. Sutton, Assigned Public Defender, with whom was Alan H. Murrell, Public Defender, on the brief, for appellant.
Case Date:December 07, 1982
Court:Court of Special Appeals of Maryland

Page 992

452 A.2d 992 (Md.App. 1982)

53 Md.App. 230

Gerald Lawrence MARRS


STATE of Maryland.

No. 185.

Court of Special Appeals of Maryland.

December 7, 1982

[53 Md.App. 231] David P. Sutton, Assigned Public Defender, with whom was Alan H. Murrell, Public Defender of Md. on brief, for appellant.

Ann E. Singleton, Asst. Atty. Gen., with whom were Stephen H. Sachs, Atty. Gen., Paul S. Podolak, State's Atty. for Cecil County and James C. McKinney, Asst. State's Atty. for Cecil County on brief, for appellee.

Argued before MORTON, MOYLAN and MOORE, JJ.

MORTON, Judge.

Appellant, Gerald Lawrence Marrs, convicted by a jury in the Circuit Court for Cecil County of arson under Md.Ann.Code art. 27, § 7, and sentenced to seventeen years imprisonment with the last five years suspended, presents in this appeal a question of first impression in this State--

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whether a statement or confession resulting from a parole officer's questioning, although aimed solely at the parole function, may be admitted in a criminal prosecution where not preceded by Miranda warnings. 1

Appellant, taken into custody by two Cecil County police officers on trespassing charges, was questioned by his probation officer in the presence of the two officers in the police vehicle on the way to the police station and upon arrival at the police station about an arson that had occurred approximately one year earlier. The probation officer, testifying [53 Md.App. 232] that the purpose of his questioning was to enable him to make a proper recommendation as to whether appellant's bail bond and probation should be revoked, at no time gave appellant Miranda warnings.

While appellant denied any involvement in the arson when he was questioned the first two times in the presence of the police officers, he told his probation officer, after first requesting the police officers to leave, that he had "set the fire." This statement, admitted into evidence after appellant's motion to suppress was denied, forms the basis of the instant conviction.

The privilege against self-incrimination, which Miranda warnings are primarily intended to secure, mandates that no person shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself. U.S. Const., amend. V. In order to be subject to Miranda warnings, a defendant's statement must flow from "custodial interrogation" within the meaning of Miranda, there defined as "questioning initiated by law enforcement officers after a person has been taken into custody or otherwise deprived of his freedom of action in any significant way." 384 U.S. at 444, 86 S.Ct. at 1612.

The State, conceding that appellant was in custody and that no Miranda warnings were given, argues that the Miranda safeguards are not applicable to questioning conducted by a probation officer.

While statements made to a probation officer without the Miranda warnings being given are uniformly held properly admitted in a probation or parole revocation hearing, 2 there [53 Md.App. 233] seems to be a difference of opinion as to whether those same statements may be admitted in a subsequent criminal prosecution. The overwhelming weight of authority, however, stands in favor of exclusion.

Just as custodial interrogation is not limited to police stationhouse interrogation, see Mathis v. United States, 391 U.S. 1, 88 S.Ct. 1503, 20 L.Ed.2d 381 (1968), Orozco v. Texas, 394 U.S. 324, 89 S.Ct. 1095, 22 L.Ed.2d 311 (1969), neither is the protection of the fifth amendment limited to any single source of official interrogation. Where a defendant is subject to the inherently compelling...

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