18 U.S.C. § 3501 and the Admissibility of Confessions Obtained During Unnecessary Prearraignment Delay

Part I thus argues that the admissibility of post-sixth-hour confessions is governed by Mallory, under which a voluntary confession is inadmissible if, but only if, it follows a period of unnecessary delay. Part II addresses a possible objection to this conclusion – namely, that, with limited exceptions, subsection 350l(c) renders all post-sixth hour confessions inadmissible without regard to the reasonableness of the prearraignment delay. This interpretation is derived by negative implication from the proviso in subsection 350l(c) and would require courts to suppress confessions even though there has been no unnecessary delay, and even though the confessions would be admissible under Mallory. To avoid this result, courts have expanded the proviso’s narrow exception to include all forms of reasonable delay, thus rendering the proviso as broad as Mallory itself. This Note agrees that courts should not read subsection 3501(c) to imply that all post-sixth hour confessions are inadmissible, but disagrees that the way to avoid that implication is to expand the meaning of the proviso. The language and the history of the proviso, as well as general rules of statutory interpretation, defy its expansion. Part II argues instead that the proviso’s negative implication was unintended and is inconsistent with congressional purpose, and should be rejected.