(951) 667-5293

Orange County:

(714) 758-5293

who you hire can make all the difference

Mr. Donath has spent his entire career defending people and standing up for the rights of the accused.

request a free consultation
  • former deputy public defender

    As a former Deputy Public Defender in Riverside County, Mr. Donath has always been on the defense side of the law. 

  • award winning certified criminal law specialist

    Top 100 Trial Attorneys in California 2012-2014, 2008 Trial Attorney of the Year by the Riverside County Public Defender's Office, and dozens of other awards and accolades.

  • a true passion for defending the accused

    Your lawyer should have a passion for defense, not just a passion for money. Reputation, vigor, and determination go a long way in this business.

Request Consultation

request a free confidential consultation

*all fields are required

What is Custodial Interrogation?

Posted in California Law on June 10, 2021

When we watch TV shows or movies, we typically see law enforcement officers arresting somebody, reading them their Miranda rights, and then proceeding to question them. However, Miranda rights do not just occur in these types of situations. The Miranda requirements arise even if a suspect is subject to what is called “custodial interrogation.”

Here, we want to briefly define what “custodial” in this scenario, discuss the factors that determine if an interrogation was custodial, and review how minors are protected in these situations.

Definition of the term “custodial”

The most basic definition of “custodial” shows this to mean that a person or entity has the “care, possession, or control of a thing or person.” Custodial can also refer to inspection, guarding, maintenance, or security of a person or thing, as well as the detention of a person by a lawful authority or process.

When examining law enforcement activity, the term custodial will refer to a person simply being in custody. This does not necessarily have to refer to a person who has been arrested or is in handcuffs. Rather, custodial can refer to anytime law enforcement officials have deprived a person of their freedom in any significant way. This will include any incident in which a person is not free to walk away from the police.

Factors that determine if an interrogation was custodial

When we look at what custodial interrogation is, we have to differentiate between this type of interrogation from other forms of interrogation. When a person is interrogated by law enforcement officials, this simply means that they are being questioned. When most people think of interrogation, they think that the person facing questioning has already been arrested and/or read their Miranda rights.

The courts will consider a broad range of factors when determining whether or not custodial interrogation has occurred. In general, we will see the courts apply the “reasonable person standard,” which will ask whether or not a reasonable person in the same situation would feel they had the right to leave or not. If not, then the subject will be considered in custody, and the Miranda rights requirements will be triggered.

When looking at the reasonable person standard, the court will look at the totality of the circumstances surrounding the interrogation. This will take into account not just whether or not physical restraints were used, but also psychological restrictions on a person’s freedom believe the situation. For example, the court will look at:

  • Who asked the questions
  • How many officers were present
  • Who else was present at the interrogation
  • Who initiated the discussion
  • Whether or not there were deadly weapons in view
  • Where the questioning occurred
  • Whether or not any force was used on the suspect
  • How long the questioning lasted
  • The interview style
  • Whether or not the suspect was free to leave at the end of the interrogation

How does SB 203 protect minors during interrogation?

A new law in California, Senate Bill 203, bans police custodial interrogation of any person under the age of 18 until that person has consulted with their attorney about their rights. This bill passed in late 2020 and was signed by the governor. This law had bipartisan support, with two-thirds of the lawmakers in both the Senate and Assembly voting in favor of the bill. If your child was interrogated without the presence of a lawyer, contact us to discuss your case.