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Name: People v. Potter
Case #: C088889
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 07/13/2021

Defendant was not in custody, requiring warnings under Miranda v. Arizona (1966) 384 U.S. 436, where he had gone to the police station voluntarily, the police told him he was not under arrest, and the questioning was not unduly contentious. An officer called defendant, telling defendant that his daughter had alleged he had sexually abused her. Defendant agreed to meet with officers at the police station to take a polygraph. During a two hour period, made up of three separate interviews (two of which were recorded), defendant made incriminating statements. His cell phone was also taken to be analyzed. Defendant was permitted to leave afterwards, and was arrested three days later. He was convicted of one count of oral copulation with a child 10 years of age or younger. On appeal, he argued his prior statements were inadmissible because he was not given the required advisements under Miranda. Held: Affirmed. An interrogation is custodial, for purposes of requiring advisements under Miranda, when a person has been taken into custody or otherwise deprived of his freedom of action in any significant way. All the circumstances of the interrogation are relevant to this inquiry, including the location, length and form of the interrogation, the degree to which the investigation was focused on the defendant, and whether any indicia of arrest were present. (People v. Moore (2011) 51 Cal.4th 386, 394-395.) The fact that an interrogation occurred at the police station does not, by itself, render the interrogation custodial; nor does the fact that the defendant was questioned as a suspect. Defendant went to the police station voluntarily. He was expressly told at the beginning of each interview that he could leave and the door was not locked. There was nothing confrontational or contentious enough from the recordings to convert an otherwise voluntary interview into a custodial interrogation. Finally, the total time was under two hours, similar to the duration of the interview in Moore. Thus, defendant was not in custody, and Miranda warnings were not required.