Police interrogation of a probationer at the probation office was not a custodial interrogation for the purposes of Miranda



United States

In State v. Brandon, SC20371 (January 24, 2023), the defendant appealed his conviction of manslaughter in the first degree with a firearm, arguing that the trial court improperly denied his motion to suppress statements he made during two separately recorded police interrogations of him. The first interrogation took place at the probation office and the defendant, who was a probationer, was not read his Miranda rights. 

To be entitled to Miranda warnings, the defendant must have been in custody when the statements were made in response to police questioning

In State v. Mangual, 311 Conn. 182, 85 A.3d 627 (Conn. March 4, 2014) (“Mangual”), the Connecticut Supreme Court identified a non-exhaustive list of factors to consider in determining whether a defendant has satisfied their burden of establishing that they were in custody for the purposes of Miranda, including the nature, extent, and duration of the questioning; whether the defendant was handcuffed or otherwise physically restrained; whether law enforcement officers explained that the defendant was free to leave or not under arrest; who initiated the encounter;  the location of the interview; the length of the detention; the number of officers in the immediate vicinity of the questioning; whether the officers were armed; whether the officers displayed their weapons or used force of any other kind before or during questioning; and the degree to which the defendant was isolated from friends, family, and the public.

The interrogation at the probation office was noncustodial 

The Connecticut Supreme Court examined the totality of the circumstances and concluded that  the defendant was not in custody during the first interrogation. The Court found that a reasonable person in the defendant’s position would not have believed they were restrained to a degree associated with a formal arrest. 

The Court acknowledged that the defendant was questioned in a coercive environment by two armed police officers in a secured area in the probation office immediately after the defendant had finished his required meeting with the probation officer. However, the Court stated that a coercive environment, without more, does not establish that an interrogation was custodial. The Court relied on the fact that the defendant’s probation officer did not order the defendant to meet with the police officers, but instead informed him that if he had a minute he could meet with someone else who wished to speak with him. Furthermore, the defendant received repeated reminders from the police officers that he was free to leave and was not under arrest. The defendant was not handcuffed, physically threatened, or physically restrained. Although the officers seized the defendant’s cell phone at the end of the interrogation, he was free to use his phone during the interrogation. Lastly, at the end of the interrogation, the defendant left without being placed under arrest and agreed to meet the officers again that same day at the police station. 


The Court concluded that the defendant was not in custody during the first interview, and because the defendant’s challenge to the trial court’s denial of his motion to suppress the statements that he made during the second interview was predicated on his claim that he was in custody during the first interview, that challenge failed as well. Therefore, the Court affirmed the trial court’s judgment.

February 17, 2023
State v. Brandon, SC20371 (January 24, 2023)
Author: Grace Baehren
Connecticut Courts