People v. Pettingill

Decision Date09 May 1978
Docket NumberCr. 20077
CourtCalifornia Supreme Court
Parties, 578 P.2d 108 The PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. Frank Jay PETTINGILL, Defendant and Appellant.

Hatch & Parent and Franklyn S. Michaelson, Santa Barbara, under appointment by the Supreme Court, for defendant and appellant.

Roger S. Hanson, Santa Ana, John M. Pitkin and Cherie A. Parker as amici curiae on behalf of defendant and appellant.

Evelle J. Younger, Atty. Gen., Jack R. Winkler, Chief Asst. Atty. Gen., S. Clark Moore, Asst. Atty. Gen., Robert F. Katz and Kent M. Bridwell, Deputy Attys. Gen., for plaintiff and respondent.

MOSK, Associate Justice.

Defendant was charged with four counts of burglary (Pen.Code, § 459) and pleaded not guilty. Pursuant to Penal Code section 1538.5 he moved to suppress a confession he had made while in jail, together with certain physical evidence found in a search to which he had consented in the course of the confession. The motion was denied. Defendant then withdrew his original pleas and pleaded guilty to two counts of the information. On the People's motion the other two counts were dismissed in the interest of justice, and defendant was sentenced to state prison for the term prescribed by law. He appeals from the judgment, attacking only the denial of his motion to suppress. (Pen.Code, § 1538.5, subd. (m).) In addressing that issue we may consider defendant's primary contention that the confession was obtained in violation of his privilege against self-incrimination. (People v. Superior Court (Zolnay ) (1975) 15 Cal.3d 729, 735, 125 Cal.Rptr. 798, 542 P.2d 1390.) 1

About 10 p. m. on Saturday, February 7, 1976, Officer Berry of the Eureka Police Department arrested defendant and three companions at the scene of a burglary in that city. He placed defendant in handcuffs and advised him of his rights under Miranda v. Arizona (1966) 384 U.S. 436, 467-473, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694. 2 Berry asked defendant if he understood these rights, and defendant replied that he did. The officer then asked defendant if, "having these rights in mind," he wanted to talk to the police. Defendant refused to do so, and he was transported to the Eureka police station and booked.

The arrest of two of defendant's companions had taken place in a nearby parked car. Visible in that car were numerous items of personal property, including a pill bottle which the police promptly seized. From the label on the bottle the police learned the prescription had been issued to a person with a Santa Barbara address. The police became suspicious that much of the property in the car was stolen, and telephoned the Santa Barbara Police Department. Detective Rogers of that department undertook an investigation of the possible connection of defendant and his companions with four recent burglaries in Santa Barbara.

Meanwhile, some two hours after the arrest i. e., approximately midnight on February 7 Officer Berry renewed the interrogation of defendant at the Eureka police station. The officer readvised defendant of his Miranda rights and "asked him again if he wished to make a statement . . . ." Again defendant replied that he did not want to talk to the police, and he was transferred to the county jail.

On Monday, February 9, Detective Rogers of the Santa Barbara Police Department arrived in Eureka to pursue his investigation. The Eureka police turned over to Rogers the suspected stolen property, and advised him that defendant had twice refused to make a statement. Rogers then interrogated defendant's three companions in turn. Each was given the Miranda warnings, replied in the affirmative when asked to waive those rights, and confessed to participating in the Santa Barbara burglaries.

Finally, on Tuesday, February 10 i. e., three days after the arrest Detective Rogers initiated a third interrogation of defendant, despite knowledge that defendant had previously refused to discuss his criminal involvement. The questioning took place in the county jail. Rogers began by telling defendant that his three companions had confessed to committing the Santa Barbara burglaries; that one of his companions told the police that various items taken in those burglaries had been pawned by defendant in Los Angeles; that the Los Angeles Police Department investigated the lead and found that defendant had in fact pawned such items on five or six occasions; that he, Rogers, had also been informed that defendant had broken into a van and stolen some articles and then hidden them at a state beach; and that he had recovered the articles at the place described.

After reciting these facts Detective Rogers again read defendant his Miranda rights, established that he understood them, and asked if defendant wanted to talk to him. This time defendant replied, "I guess so, yeah." Taking this to be a valid waiver of defendant's privilege against self-incrimination, Rogers proceeded to question him about the four Santa Barbara burglaries. Defendant confessed to the crimes.

On cross-examination Detective Rogers conceded that defendant had previously done nothing to indicate a desire to talk to him. And when on direct examination defendant was asked why he had changed his mind about talking to the police on the occasion of the third interrogation, he explained: "I just wanted to get them off my back, and I figured the only way I could is to say something, and when the last officer talked to me, you know, for a pretty long time, I figured the only way I could was to go ahead and say something."

Defendant contends his confession was inadmissible because it was the product of custodial interrogation renewed by the police after he had twice indicated to them that he wished to remain silent. A long line of decisions of this court holds that the introduction of such a confession violates the privilege against self-incrimination of article I, section 15, of the California Constitution. 3 That privilege, we have ruled, "precludes use by the prosecution of any extrajudicial statement by the defendant, whether inculpatory or exculpatory, either as affirmative evidence or for purposes of impeachment, obtained during custodial interrogation in violation of the standards declared in Miranda and its California progeny." (People v. Disbrow (1976) 16 Cal.3d 101, 113, 127 Cal.Rptr. 360, 368, 545 P.2d 272, 280.) We review first the relevant language of Miranda, then the holdings of its "California progeny" which have applied that language and made it an intrinsic part of the law of this state.


The Miranda decision was premised on the perception that interrogation of a suspect in police custody is inherently coercive. (384 U.S. at pp. 445-458, 86 S.Ct. 1602.) To insure that any statement the suspect makes in that setting is a product of his free will, the United States Supreme Court held that the interrogation must be surrounded by certain essential procedural safeguards: before any questioning begins the police must give the suspect the now-familiar "Miranda warnings," advising him primarily of his right to remain silent and to have the assistance of counsel (fn. 2, ante ); to be valid, any waiver thereof must be both knowing and intelligent; and the questioning must terminate if the suspect directly or indirectly invokes any of these rights. (Id. at pp. 467-479, 86 S.Ct. 1602.)

On the latter point the Miranda court reasoned as follows: "Once warnings have been given, the subsequent procedure is clear. If the individual indicates in any manner, at any time prior to or during questioning, that he wishes to remain silent, the interrogation must cease. At this point he has shown that he intends to exercise his Fifth Amendment privilege; any statement taken after the person invokes his privilege cannot be other than the product of compulsion, subtle or otherwise. Without the right to cut off questioning, the setting of in-custody interrogation operates on the individual to overcome free choice in producing a statement after the privilege has been once invoked." (Fn. omitted; id. at pp. 473-474, 86 S.Ct. pp. 1627, 1628.)

Of course, because no warnings of any kind were given in Miranda, the decision did not actually adjudicate the precise issue now before us. That issue, which had often been presented to the courts since Miranda, typically arises from the following sequence of events: the police give the suspect the Miranda warnings and seek to question him, but he successfully invokes his right to remain silent; rather than promptly release or arraign him, however, the police continue to hold him in custody; thereafter the police again give him the Miranda warnings and renew the interrogation, and this time he confesses. There are variations on this theme: there may be more than two attempts at interrogation; the interval between interrogations may be long or short; at the start of the second or subsequent interrogation the police may or may not confront the suspect with additional evidence or statements of his accomplices; and the later questioning may be conducted by a different police officer, in a different location, and deal with a different crime. Nevertheless, in a long line of decisions this court has consistently held that a statement taken from the suspect in any of these circumstances is inadmissible because in violation of the principles of Miranda and the privilege against self-incrimination of the California Constitution.

The line began with People v. Fioritto (1968) 68 Cal.2d 714, 68 Cal.Rptr. 817, 441 P.2d 625. There the defendant and two companions were arrested for burglary and taken to the police station. The police gave the defendant the Miranda warnings and asked him to sign a waiver of his rights. He refused. The police then confronted him with his two accomplices, who had previously confessed and implicated him. The police again gave the defendant the Miranda warnings and renewed their request that he sign...

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