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United States v. Washington

431 U.S. 181, 97 S. Ct. 1814 (1977)

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United States v. Washington

United States Supreme Court

431 U.S. 181, 97 S. Ct. 1814 (1977)

Facts

While conducting a traffic stop, a police officer recognized a motorcycle that had been reported stolen in the van. The officer arrested the two men in the van and impounded the vehicle. When the van owner (defendant) arrived at the police station to reclaim the van, he was questioned about the motorcycle. The van owner told the officer that he had seen the motorcycle break down and had offered the motorcyclist to take the motorcycle for repairs. Shortly after the motorcyclist had placed the motorcycle in the van, the van ran out of gas and the van owner called the two men who had been arrested to stay with the van while he walked to the nearest gas station. The van owner alleged that when he returned to the van, the van and his two friends were gone. The officer told the van owner that his story was not believable and that if he were to tell that story in court, he would be in trouble. The van owner was then subpoenaed by a grand-jury investigating the stolen motorcycle. The prosecutor did not inform the van owner that his testimony could lead to an indictment. Before the van owner testified, he was advised of his right to remain silent and told that any statements he made could be used against him. The van owner repeated the same story and was indicted for grand larceny and receiving stolen property. The van owner filed a motion to suppress his testimony on the ground that his Fifth Amendment right against compelled self-incrimination had been violated. The district court found the van owner had not been advised of his Fifth Amendment right and suppressed the testimony. The court of appeals affirmed. The matter was appealed, and the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Burger, C.J.)

Dissent (Brennan, Marshall, J.J.)

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