The Expansion of
"Routine Booking Questions"
The "Routine Booking question" exception permits the police during custodial interviews to ask certain information about the suspect so that they can identify him or her and ensure his or her safety while in police custody.
In Pennsylvania v. Muniz, 496 U.S. 582 (1990), the United States Supreme Court, in a plurality opinion, found that seven questions regarding Muniz’s name, address, height, weight, eye color, date of birth, and age were part of custodial interrogation of DUI suspect but fell under the routine booking question exception to Miranda because they were related to “police’s administrative concerns.” Therefore, the police were not required to read Muniz his rights prior to asking those questions.
In practice, now 30 years since Muniz, when police start an interrogation, they ask a variety of “administrative questions” – name, address, next of kin, phone numbers, education, date of birth, tattoos, email, social media, vehicle information. The concern is that most of these questions exceed the intent of the “routine booking question” exception because they have nothing to do with identifying or ensuring the safety of the suspect.
Here is an example. I have a case where the defendant is accused of using online messaging apps to entice a minor to send him naked pictures. Of course there was no minor – there never was. It was a FBI agent. Before arresting and interrogating my client, the did a full background on him. They knew everything about him including his email addresses and online user names. But when they interrogated him, before reading him his rights, they asked him about 27 different items under the guise of “biographical info.” This included his email address, his address (they had traced the IP address already to his address), and his social media. HOW IS ANY OF THIS NECESSARY FOR IDENTIFYING HIM AND ENSURING HIS SAFETY!!!! It isn’t, but it sure is relevant to his online solicitation of pictures and is possibly incriminating, which is why I filed a Motion to Suppress.
WHat do you do if you are taken into custody for an interrogation?
smile, you are on camera
Almost all law enforcement record interviews door to door. So even when you are in the room alone, know you are being recorded!
Ask if you are free to leave
Immediately ask if you are free to leave. Do it on camera in the room. If they say you are free to leave. Leave immediately!
only provide your name, date of birth, and address
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