US Supreme Court rules that confessions obtained after six hours by federal investigators may not be admissible

Written By: Reid
Apr 14, 2009
On April 6, 2009 in the case of Corley v. US, the United States Supreme court ruled the following:

"We hold that S 3501 modified McNabb-Mallory without supplanting it. Under the rule as revised by S 3501(c), a district court with a suppression claim must find whether the defendant confessed within six hours of arrest (unless a longer delay was "reasonable considering the means of transportation and the distance to be traveled to the nearest available [magistrate]"). If the confession came within that period, it is admissible, subject to the other Rules of Evidence, so long as it was "made voluntarily and ... the weight to be given [it] is left to the jury." Ibid. If the confession occurred before presentment and beyond six hours, however, the court must decide whether delaying that long was unreasonable or unnecessary under the McNabb-Mallory cases, and if it was, the confession is to be suppressed.

In this case, the Third Circuit did not apply this rule and in consequence never conclusively determined whether Corley's oral confession "should be treated as having been made within six hours of arrest," as the District Court held. 500 F.3d, at 220, n. 7. Nor did the Circuit consider the justifiability of any delay beyond six hours if the oral confession should be treated as given outside the six-hour window; and it did not make this enquiry with respect to Corley's written confession. We therefore vacate the judgment of the Court of Appeals and remand the case for consideration of those issues in the first instance, consistent with this opinion."
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