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PA Supreme Court Rules Custodial Interrogation by Parole Officer Requires Miranda Warnings

Posted On: July 2, 2015 by Marc Neff

In Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Cooley, parole officers received a voicemail from the father of Cooley’s fiancé who stated that Cooley possessed and had been discharging firearms, and may have been selling drugs in his home. Given the nature of the relationship between Cooley and his future father in law, the parole officers handcuffed Cooley upon arrival and searched him for weapons. The officers told Cooley that they were going to search his home for firearms and drugs. Cooley admitted that a firearm was located in a drawer under his living-room couch. Four parole agents searched the home recovering 2 guns, cash, and one pound of marijuana. Agents also recovered a handgun under the passenger seat of his car. During the entire search of his home, and the return to the office, Cooley remained handcuffed and was never give Miranda warnings.


The Trial Court decided, that due to safety protocols, Cooley was only “detained” and it was not the functional equivalent of an arrest. The Superior Court affirmed, holding Miranda warnings were not required during questioning by parole agents. The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania reversed concluding that Cooley’s interaction was a custodial interrogation and a violation of the 5th Amendment. The questioning by law enforcement without Miranda warnings was a clear violation of the rights afforded by the 5th Amendment.
An individual is in custody if he is “physically denied his freedom of action in any significant way or is placed in a situation in which he reasonably believes that his freedom of action or movement is restricted by the interrogation.”


All persons charged with crimes are entitled to the protections afforded by the United States Constitution. An experienced criminal defense attorney helps to ensure that a defendant’s rights are protected before, during and after a trial. If you have been charged with or convicted of a criminal offense, you should consult with a criminal defense attorney immediately. For a confidential consultation, contact the Law Offices of Marc Neff at (215) 563-9800 or via email at

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