NACDL - Indiana - Recording Interrogations Compendium

Indiana - Recording Interrogations Compendium

Information on the policy and history of recording custodial interrogations in Indiana.

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Summary

Indiana has a Supreme Court rule requiring recording of custodial interrogations.

Supreme Court Rule

Citation:  Indiana Rule of Evidence 617 – Unrecorded Statements During Custodial Interrogation (2009).

Court’s finding:  The Court stated that it “finds that the interests of justice and sound judicial administration will be served by the adoption of a new Rule of Evidence to require electronic audio-video recordings of customary custodial interrogation of suspects in felony cases as a prerequisite for the admission of evidence of any statements made during such interrogation.”

General rule: All custodial interrogations conducted in a place of detention must be electronically recorded when the person being interrogated is charged with specified felonies. Electronic Recording is defined as “an audio-video recording that includes at least not only the visible images of the person being interviewed but also the voices of said person and the interrogating officers.” § (a) “The Electronic Recording must be a complete, authentic, accurate, unaltered, and continuous record of a Custodial Interrogation.” § (c)

Circumstances that excuse recording: Recording is excused if the suspect agreed to respond only if the interview was not recorded; the officers inadvertently failed to operate the equipment properly; the equipment malfunctioned; the officers reasonably believed the crime under investigation was not a felony; substantial exigent circumstances existed which prevented or made it not feasible to make a recording. § (a)(1)-(7).

Consequences of unexcused failure to record: “In a felony criminal presentation, evidence of a statement made by a person during a Custodial Interrogation in a Place of Detention shall not be admitted against the person unless an Electronic Recording of the statement was made, preserved, and is available at trial, except upon clear and convincing proof” that an exception is applicable. § (a).

Preservation: None given.

Cases

Fansler v. State, 100 N.E.3d 250, 251, 255 (Ind. 2018): Aaron Fansler was arrested and taken to a motel room, where police officers searched him, found illegal drugs in his possession, and read him his Miranda rights. Fansler made incriminating statements in his conversation with the police officers, and was later convicted of possessing heroin with intent to deliver. Fansler appealed his conviction, arguing the trial court should not have admitted his incriminating statements, since they were not recorded pursuant to Indiana Evidence Rule 617. The Supreme Court of Indiana ruled against Fansler, holding that the motel room was not a place of detention within the meaning of Rule 617 since “the primary use of the motel room was surveillance, not interrogation.”

The Indiana Court of Appeals stated in Stoker v. State, 692 N.E.2d 1386, 1390 (Ind. Ct. App.1998):

Nevertheless, although we impose no legal obligation, we discern few instances in which law enforcement officers would be justified in failing to record custodial interrogations in places of detention. Disputes regarding the circumstances of an interrogation would be minimized, in that a tape recording preserves undisturbed that which the mind may forget.