United States v. Hughes, No. 09-1646 (1st Cir. 2011)Annotate this Case
After a 15-year-old told a detective that defendant had nude pictures of her, officers visited the defendant's home, intending to take him to a medical facility. A doctor had previously notified the sheriff that the defendant was unstable. The defendant invited the officers in, admitted that he had photographed the girl in the bathroom, but claimed that it was not intentional. During the interview the defendant had a panic attack and received assistance. When officers asked to search computers, the defendant admitted that he looked at pictures of young girls and called himself a deviant. Assured that he was not under arrest, the defendant turned over tapes and signed a consent. Officers seized computers and took defendant to a medical center, where he was arrested days later. After the district court denied a motion to suppress, the defendant entered a conditional plea. The First Circuit affirmed. The defendant was not in custody and not entitled to Miranda warnings. The presence of four officers in a small house was "impressive," but not overwhelming. There was no show of force; the atmosphere was calm and polite and the defendant retained control of his activities. Despite the defendant's fragile mental state, his other characteristics and the behavior of the officers support a conclusion of voluntariness. Even if the consent to search had been coerced, discovery of the evidence was inevitable.