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Are All Police Interrogations Recorded?

The Model Code of Pre-Arraignment Procedures § 130.4 (3), set out by the American Law Institute, states that law enforcement agencies should make a sound recording of “any questioning of the arrested person and any statement he makes in response thereto.” The Constitution Project also recommends that custodial interrogations of a suspect in a homicide case should be videotaped or digitally recorded whenever practicable.

That said, only twenty-five jurisdictions in the United States require that law enforcement agencies either make video recordings or audio recordings of all custodial interrogations. A custodial interrogation is more formal and serious than casual questioning by an officer or representative of the state.

Constitutional rights are implicated during custodial interrogations, and all citizens have the ability to invoke their right to assistance of counsel and their right to remain silent and not incriminate themselves. However, these rights are not also upheld by law enforcement, and if the interrogation is not recorded, it can be difficult for a defendant to prove violations.

The law office of Kyle Whitaker can help you if you have been charged with a crime or if you think your constitutional rights were violated during a custodial interrogation. Having an experienced criminal defense attorney representing you can often help you obtain a more favorable outcome and negotiate more effectively with assistant district attorneys.

Recording Requirements in Texas

Criminal procedure rules in Texas require law enforcement to record interrogations for the following offenses when feasible:

Moreover, evidentiary rules set out recording requirements in order to use a statement by the defendant in interrogation in court. While there are exceptions, there generally must be a clear recording following Miranda warnings for a defendant’s statements to be admissible in Texas court.

Different Jurisdictions Mandate Custodial Interrogation Recordings in Specific Circumstances

Many states have varying criteria regarding the documentation and recording of custodial interrogations. Montana, Minnesota, Arkansas, and Alaska require that all custodial interrogations for all criminal offenses be recorded. Wisconsin, Utah, New Mexico, and Indiana require recordings for only felony charges.

The majority of the other states only record custodial interrogations relating to specific offenses such as rape and capital murder. Custodial interrogations involving sex crimes, violent offenses, and aggravated crimes are also recorded in many U.S. jurisdictions.

California requires a custodial interrogation to be recorded only if a juvenile is suspected of having committed murder. Rhode Island records all custodial interrogations related to capital offenses. Hawaii records all custodial interrogations related to any serious crime.

The U.S. Department of Justice requires that many of its law enforcement agencies record interviews and custodial interrogations.

Recording custodial interrogations is beneficial to U.S. society as a whole. Recordings help protect the innocent from false confessions or dangerous police tactics. Mandatory recording requirements could become more prevalent in the United States as cyberterrorism becomes more entrenched in the data infrastructure of the U.S. Recordings offer insights into psychological and psychosocial factors that contribute to crime and other disruptive elements in civil society.

A Fort Worth Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help

The Law Office of Kyle Whitaker can help you understand if your constitutional rights have been violated during a custodial interrogation. You can contact the office today and schedule a consultation during which we can discuss the facts of your case and any defenses that may be applicable to your particular circumstances.