Kaupp v. Texas, 538 U.S. 626 (2003) (per curiam)

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on petition for writ of certiorari to the court of appeals of texas, fourteenth district

No. 02-5636. Decided May 5, 2003

After petitioner Kaupp, then 17, was implicated in the murder of a 14-year-old girl by the confession of the girl's half brother, detectives tried, but failed, to obtain a warrant to question Kaupp. They then went to his house at 3 a.m.; awakened and handcuffed him; led him, shoeless and dressed only in his underwear, to a patrol car; stopped at the crime scene; and took him to the sheriff's headquarters, where they removed the handcuffs and advised him of his rights under Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U. S. 436. Once presented with the brother's confession, Kaupp admitted to having a part in the crime. He did not acknowledge causing the fatal wound or confess to the murder, for which he was later indicted. Kaupp moved unsuccessfully to suppress his confession as the fruit of an illegal arrest, was convicted, and was sentenced to prison. In affirming, the Texas Court of Appeals found that the arrest occurred after Kaupp's confession; that Kaupp consented to go with the officers when he answered "Okay" to an officer's statement that they needed to talk; that a reasonable person would not have believed that putting on handcuffs before being removed to a patrol car was a significant restriction on his freedom of movement, since this was common practice of the sheriff's office; and that Kaupp did not resist the use of handcuffs or act in a manner consistent with anything but full cooperation. The State Court of Criminal Appeals denied discretionary review.

Held: Kaupp was arrested within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment before the detectives began to question him. A seizure of the person within the meaning of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments occurs when, "taking into account all of the circumstances surrounding the encounter, the police conduct would 'have communicated to a reasonable person that he was not at liberty to ignore the police presence and go about his business.' " Florida v. Bostick, 501 U. S. 429, 437. This test is derived from Justice Stewart's opinion in United States v. Menden-hall, 446 U. S. 544, 554, which includes, as examples of circumstances that might indicate a seizure, the threatening presence of several police officers, an officer's display of a weapon, some physical touching of the person, or the use of language or tone of voice indicating that compliance with the officer's request might be compelled. This Court has never sustained the involuntary removal of a suspect from his home to a police

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