State v. Courville

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Procedure
  • Date Filed: 03-02-2016
  • Case #: A154835
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Lagesen, J. for the Court; Duncan, P.J.; & Flynn, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

Compelling circumstances exist when the circumstances are such that an objectively reasonable person would feel compelled to answer an officer’s questions.

Defendant appealed a judgment convicting him of two counts of sexual abuse. Defendant assigned error to the trial court’s denial of his motion to suppress an admission Defendant made to police. Defendant argued that suppression was warranted under the Oregon Constitution. The trial court determined that Defendant was not in compelling circumstances when he made the admission so suppression was not required. Defendant’s daughter disclosed that Defendant had abused her in the past and two officers responded to interview Defendant. The officer spoke with Defendant for an hour and a half and after some more probing from the officer, Defendant admitted to touching his daughter inappropriately and wrote a statement to that effect. If the Defendant was in compelling circumstances, the police officer interviewing him was required to read him his Miranda warnings. “Compelling circumstances exist when the circumstances are such that an objectively reasonable person would feel compelled to answer the officer’s questions.” Relevant factors for that determination are: “(1) the location of the encounter; (2) the length of the encounter; (3) the amount of pressure exerted on the defendant; and (4) the defendant’s ability to terminate the encounter.” The court summarized, “the setting in which the interview was conducted was not dominated by police or otherwise particularly compelling, but the manner of questioning exerted pressure on defendant to speak.” The court held that the factors weigh in favor of the situation not being a compelling circumstance. Affirmed.

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