The Public Safety Exception to Miranda: Analyzing Subjective Motivation

This Note argues, however, that the appropriate inquiry under Quarles is whether an actual and reasonable belief in an emergency motivated the interrogating officer. This Note proposes a two-prong test to facilitate this inquiry. The subjective motivation prong evaluates the officer’s subjective motivation as revealed by objective factors: the. content of the officer’s questions, when he asked them, and when the suspect received Miranda warnings. The objective reasonableness prong looks at the objective circumstances to determine the reasonableness of the officer’s belief in an emergency.

Part I demonstrates that the Quarles opinion actually contemplates and requires analysis of the officer’s subjective motivation and therefore comports with this Note’s test. Part II then fully describes the subjective motivation prong of this Note’s test; it outlines which objective factors are most probative of the officer’s subjective intent. Part ID outlines the objective reasonableness prong of this Note’s test; it argues that the perceived danger must be both reasonably substantial and reasonably imminent in order to satisfy this prong. Part IV then argues that courts have implicitly or explicitly looked to an officer’s subjective motivation and that doing so best comports with the policies of Miranda and Quarles.