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    Problems with evidence

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    The defendant, who was charged with a robbery and murder, was placed in a jail cell with a police informant . The informant overheard the defendant make incriminating statements that he passed on to the police.

    1. Can the informant appear as a witness and testify about the statements he heard if he took no action other thatn merely listening to what the defendant had to say?

    2. Should the evidence of the defendant's statement be admissable if there was a prior arrangement with the police to put the informant in a position where he could overhear the defendant's statements?

    3. If the informant "deliberately elicited" the statements from the defendant by questions and conversation, should the evidence be admissable? Explain

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    Solution Preview

    Hi there!
    This is a highly controversial constitutional issue. First, your question brings up the 5th Amendment to the US Constitution: the freedom from self-incrimination. The amendment provides in part that no person shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself. It has been held that, to be deemed free and voluntary within the meaning of the fifth amendment, a confession must not have been obtained by the exertion of any improper influence. Although an informant's deliberate eliciting of statements is interrogation in the technical sense, there is no compulsion if the suspect is unaware of the officer's or informant's true identity or purpose. Therefore, there is no need to advise jailed suspects of their Miranda rights prior to using a cellmate informant.
    In addition to the self-incrimination clause, the fifth amendment to the U.S. Constitution also provides that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property ...

    Solution Summary

    Problems with evidence are shown through a scenario.