606 – Interview and Interrogation Procedures

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Policy

All persons are guaranteed certain rights as identified in the United States Constitution and state statutes and court rulings. These rights are the premise on which American society views the accused: “innocent until proven guilty.” Harris County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) members shall recognize the importance of these rights afforded to all persons, including detainees in HCSO custody, and ensure these rights are protected.

Procedure

Interview Rooms

Security/Control

Employees will inspect an interview room for weapons and or contraband prior to placing any person in any designated room. [CALEA Standard 42.2.8 b]

Employee conducting the interview or interrogation will be responsible for the individual within the room unless relieved by another authorized employee.

A first for weapons may be conducted, based on reasonable suspicion, of any person to be interviewed.

A search of a detainee will be conducted prior to being placed into the room and before being returned to the holding cell.

Employees will not be in possession of weapons in any designated room when conducting detainee interrogations.

Weapons will be secured in a gun locker or other secured storage area. [CALEA Standard 42.2.8 a]

Persons in custody shall not be left alone in an interview room unless under direct observation from another area.

The interview room shall be limited to two employees during an interview. Non-essential personnel will not be granted access to the room while an interview or interrogation is being conducted. [CALEA Standard 42.2.8 c]

Continual observation of a detainee or suspect will be provided at all times while occupying the interview room.

Video monitoring by an employee is sufficient to meet this requirement.

Individuals will not be locked in an interview room at any time.

If a second employee is not available for summoning assistance, another means of communication should be considered, a portable radio or phone. [CALEA Standard 42.2.8 d]

Use of audio and video recording equipment

A majority of the designated interview rooms within the Harris County Sheriff’s Office is equipped with audio and video recording equipment. [CALEA Standard 42.2.8 e]

If an interview room is equipped with audio and video recording equipment, the interview should be recorded and documented for the integrity of the investigation. This recording shall be considered evidence and handled as such according to the Department Policy.

If an employee is conducting an interview in a room not designated as an interview room and is not equipped with audio or video recording equipment, the use of personal equipment is unauthorized by this agency. [See 605 – Storage of Evidence & In-Custody Property]

Constitutional Requirements

All persons are afforded all United States of America constitutional and state rights. [CALEA Standard 1.2.3]

In order to show that a person’s constitutional rights have not been breached, deputies shall follow these guidelines:

  1. Do not coerce during interviews or interrogations or when obtaining confessions or admissions.
  2. Always inform persons in custody of their legal rights prior to interrogation. A legal warning is not necessary in a non-custodial interrogation.
  3. Provide opportunity for legal counsel.
  4. Do not delay any person’s arraignment.
  5. Never participate in pre-trial publicity that would tend to prejudice a fair trial.
  6. Peace officers carry the burden of proof that a waiver of the legal warning (“Miranda Warning”) was voluntary and free of coercion. The use of written rights advisement forms should be used whenever possible.
  7. Inducements to cooperate in an interview or interrogation are not employed except with the prior approval of the prosecutor. No assurances are made as to what will happen during any phase of the handling of the case.
  8. The interview or interrogation is immediately terminated when the person requests counsel. Arrangements shall be made to comply with the request.
  9. Security procedures are used when interrogating persons who are in custody. Deputies shall ensure the physical safety of the peace officer and the arrested person.

Persons in custody shall not be left alone in an interview room unless under direct observation from another area.

Juveniles

A juvenile may be brought to HCSO facilities for the purpose of investigation or identification. [CALEA Standard 1.2.3]

The deputy taking the juvenile in custody shall, as soon as practical, notify the juvenile’s parent, guardian, or custodian and the office or official designated by the juvenile court. [CALEA Standard 44.2.2 e]

The location utilized for the interview shall be separate and apart (out of sight and sound) of adults similarly detained. [CALEA Standard 44.2.3]

The interview or interrogation shall be conducted with no more than two (2) deputies present in the room with the juvenile. [CALEA Standard 42.2.8 c]

Except after transfer to criminal court for prosecution under Texas Family Code, Section 54.02 (adult certification), a child shall not be detained in or committed to a compartment of a jail or lockup in which adults arrested for, charged with, or convicted of a crime are detained or committed, nor shall the child be permitted contact with such persons. [CALEA Standard 44.2.2 c]

The juvenile shall be allowed to converse with his or her parent, guardian, attorney, or custodian when requested by the juvenile. [CALEA Standard 44.2.3]

The interviewing deputy shall notify the juvenile of the procedures followed by law enforcement personnel during the investigation, arrest, report, booking, release, and any possible referral to the Harris County Juvenile Probation Department. [CALEA Standard 44.2.3]

The holding of a juvenile for the purposes of investigation or identification at the HCSO shall not be for an unreasonable amount of time, but in no instance shall it be for more than six (6) hours. This stipulation is for juveniles held in a secure custody status but does not include in-transit times.

The juvenile must be referred, released from custody, or transported to the Harris County Juvenile Probation Department within this six-hour period.

Regardless of age, a child may be interviewed or interrogated. If the child is in detention, he or she may be removed and interviewed for any offense if there is no pending petition or if the child is not on probation.

If there is a pending petition, or the child is on probation with no current assigned attorney of record, then a juvenile court judge must be contacted prior to interrogating or removing the child from the detention facility.

The child shall be informed of his or her rights before being interrogated. [CALEA Standard 44.2.2 c]

If there is an attorney of record, the attorney must be contacted, and that attorney must give his or her approval for the child to be interviewed or interrogated. [CALEA Standard 44.2.3]

If the interview or interrogation leads to a written statement (confession), a juvenile magistrates warning must be issued. Prior to obtaining a written statement (confession), a magistrate must read the juvenile the Texas statutory warning for juveniles. A peace officer may be present during the reading of the warning, but no peace officer, defense attorney, or attorneys representing the state shall be present during the signing of the voluntary statement. [CALEA Standards 1.2.3 c & 44.2.2 c]

Oral Admissions – Hearsay Rule

Hearsay evidence is not admissible except as provided by statute (Texas Rules of Evidence, Article VIII). Common requirements or exceptions:

  1. Oral admissions from a person during a custodial interrogation which lead to the fruits of a crime will only be admissible where the warning has first been given.
  2. An electronic recording shall be made of the warning, the accused waiver of rights, and oral confession.
  3. All voices must be identified.
  4. Oral admissions from a person being interviewed or interrogated, but not in custody, are admissible without a warning. The deputy may testify in court to the admission because it is a “statement against interest” and an exception to the hearsay rule.
  5. Res gestae statements made by the accused immediately upon arrest are admissible without warning.
  6. Excited utterances relating to a startling event or condition made while the declarant was under the stress of excitement caused by the event or condition are admissible without warning.

Suggestions Concerning Warning

The Texas Code of Criminal Procedure provides that a peace officer who takes a written statement from a person during a custodial interrogation must give the accused a legal warning (“Miranda Warning”). The accused must then knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily waive his or her right to counsel and his or her right to remain silent. Failure to comply will void a confession. [CALEA Standards 1.2.3 & 44.2.2 c]

The statutory warnings are not necessary in those instances when a person has not been arrested, is not in custody, is free to leave at will, and fully understands that he or she is free to leave at any time.

The state must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the accused waived his or her right to counsel and right to remain silent. The deputy must accurately record the following:

  1. The time and place of the arrest and giving of the warning;
  2. The words spoken by the accused in waiving his or her rights;
  3. The names of all witnesses and peace officers in the presence of the accused from the time of arrest through to the time when the statement is being given; and
  4. The demeanor, education level, and other factors which bear upon the accused person’s ability to understand and intelligently waive his or her rights.

Legal Warning

All persons are guaranteed certain rights as identified and protected by statute and interpreted by the courts. Prior to any in-custody interrogation or interview, suspects will be advised of their rights (Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Article 38.22): [CALEA Standards 1.2.3, 44.2.2 & 44.2.3]

Adult suspects (17 years of age and older) will be read the following “Texas Statutory Warnings” prior to interrogation or interview:

You have the right to remain silent and not make any statement at all. Any statement you make may be used against you and probably will be used against you at your trial.

Any statement you make may be used as evidence against you in court.

You have the right to have a lawyer present to advise you prior to and during any questioning.

If you are unable to employ a lawyer, you have the right to have a lawyer appointed to advise you prior to and during any questioning.

You have the right to terminate this interview at any time.

Juvenile suspects (ten (10) years of age or older and under seventeen (17) years of age or seventeen (17) years of age or older and under eighteen (18) years of age who are alleged or found to have been engaged in delinquent conduct or conduct that indicates a need for supervision as a result of acts committed before becoming seventeen (17) years of age) will be read the following “Texas Statutory Warnings” for juveniles prior to interview or interrogation:

You may remain silent and not make any statement at all. Any statement that you make may be used in evidence against you.

You have the right to have an attorney present to advise you either prior to any questioning or during any questioning.

If you are unable to employ an attorney, you have the right to have an attorney appointed to counsel with you prior to or during any interviews with peace officers or attorneys representing the state.

You have the right to terminate the interview at any time.

NOTE: A juvenile must be brought before a magistrate prior to giving a written statement.

Revision

This policy has been revised on the below listed dates:

April 21, 2009

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