This appeal centers on the nature of a valid invocation of the Miranda-based right to counsel, specifically, in terms of whether the right must be asserted in close temporal proximity to custodial interrogation or may be effectively invoked remotely from such questioning.
Defendant shot someone in Philadelphia and fled to Florida. He was arrested in Florida. The lawyer sent a form letter via facsimile to Florida counsel representing Appellee in connection with the extradition proceedings, asking that Appellee sign and return the document. The letter reflected a very clear putative invocation of the Miranda-based right to counsel. He signed the letter, and it was returned to the Defender Association, which forwarded copies to the Philadelphia Police Department's homicide unit and the Office of the District Attorney. Subsequently, Appellee waived extradition and was escorted to Philadelphia, where he remained in police custody. Six days after he had signed the non-waiver form, a detective, ignoring the letter, provided him with Miranda warnings. He confessed.
The court held that a person cannot invoke his Miranda rights anticipatorily, in a context other than custodial interrogation. To require a suspension of questioning by law enforcement officials on pain of an exclusionary remedy, an invocation of the Miranda-based right to counsel must be made upon or after actual or imminent commencement of in-custody interrogation.