State v. Hoyle – Miranda does not require warning that you can stop answering questions

In State v. Hoyle, decided April 4, 2012, the S.C. Court of Appeals decided that there is no fifth prong to the Miranda warnings – it is not necessary for police to advise a suspect that they can stop answering questions at any time.

The U.S. Supreme Court in Miranda held that, before questioning a suspect who is in custody, the suspect must be advised that: 1) he has the right to remain silent; 2) anything he says can be used against him in a court of law; 3)  he has the right to the presence of an attorney; and 4) if he cannot afford an attorney one will be appointed for him prior to any questioning if he so desires.

The Miranda Court also held that “[o]nce warnings have been given, the subsequent procedure is clear.  If the individual indicates in any manner, at any time prior to or during questioning, that he wishes to remain silent, the interrogation must cease.”  This, arguably, is the “fifth prong” of the Miranda warnings – it is undisputed that a suspect has the right to stop answering questions at any time; the question is whether an officer is required to advise a suspect of that right.

The S.C. Court of Appeals has approved the five pronged Miranda warning before, in State v. Kennedy, 325 S.C. 295, 303, (Ct. App. 1996):

A suspect in custody may not be subjected to interrogation unless he is informed that: he has the right to remain silent; anything he says can be used against him in a court of law; he has a right to the presence of an attorney; if he cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for him prior to any questioning, if he so desires; and he has the right to terminate the interrogation at any time and not to answer any further questions.

But, in State v. Hoyle, the court points out that, technically, this language in Kennedy was dicta and was not controlling, and that the S.C. Supreme Court has previously held in State v. Cannon, 260 S.C. 537, 542-43 (1973), that Miranda does not require an officer to inform a suspect of his right to stop answering questions.

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