FA, a troubled young woman with a significant history of court involvement, became romantically involved with an employee of one of the courthouses. As their relationship progressed, the employee gave FA a gun; he wanted her to be able to protect herself. FA quickly traded the gun for drugs. Two weeks later the drug-dealer was found passed out in his car in a parking lot. The gun was visible on the floor of the passenger seat – he did not have a license to carry a firearm. The police seized the firearm. A detective traced the gun to the court employee. The employee gave his phone to the detective and consented to a search. In searching employee’s phone, the detective recognized FA’s name.
The detective and his partner went to FA’s house and asked her to come to the police station. Reluctantly, she agreed. At the station she received her miranda rights. She hemmed and hawed about whether to waive them, and whether to speak at all to them, but she ultimately decided to talk. The detectives told FA that they needed to know how the gun got from the employee to the drug dealer. The detectives told her that they needed her information to help them with their case against the court employee. They said that the employee would “point the finger” at FA and say that FA stole the gun from him. They said that they would charge with with being an Armed Career Criminal, that she would be sentenced to twenty (20) years in prison, and that she would never see her daughter again. None of these things were true. The interrogation carried on with more misinformation and veiled threats. Ultimately, FA admitted to having the gun and trading it for drugs. She provided her phone to the detectives also. Her phone contained photos of the gun and a text message conversation with the drug dealer in which FA proposed the gun-for-drugs trade. Fortunately, the entire interrogation was video recorded.
Henry filed a motion to suppress the statements and the contents of the phone. He argued that, despite the Miranda waiver, FA’s confession and consent to search the phone were obtained by coercion, and therefore “involuntary.” The judge agreed. The Motion to Suppress was allowed – FA’s admission and the contents of the phone were excluded. The government had no evidence remaining. The case was dismissed.