Interrogations: Sixth Amendment: The Massiah Rule

The Sixth Amendment: The Massiah Doctrine

The text of the Sixth Amendment says nothing about interrogations. But it does have at least one useful hint about its applicability—the phrase “in all criminal prosecutions.” If there is no “prosecution,” there is no Sixth Amendment. The Court has clarified that “prosecution” is not limited to trials, and it has also stated that mere arrest isn’t enough. There must be some sort of formal proceeding.

The Sixth Amendment provides, “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right … to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.” The Court has held that once a defendant’s right to counsel has “attached”—a concept we will examine later—additional rules restrict interrogations. These rules differ from the Miranda Rule in important ways. For example, the Assistance of Counsel Clause applies regardless of whether a suspect is in custody. Further, the restrictions imposed under the Clause apply to undercover agents as well as to interrogators whom suspects know to be police officers.

The cases beginning with Massiah v. United States compose the third and final interrogation doctrine included in this book. Students should recall that the Due Process Clauses, the Miranda Rule, and the Massiah doctrine impose overlapping commands that police must obey during their investigations of crime. 


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Criminal Procedure: Undergraduate Edition Copyright © 2022 by Christopher E. Smith is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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