What Constitutes "Custody" and Related Miranda Issues

Written By: James Manak*
Nov 02, 2022

Miranda: What Constitutes “Custody”; Effect of Patting Down a Suspect; Factors for Determining Miranda Custody; Body Camera Footage; Effect of Frisking the Arrestee and Informing Him He Is Under Arrest; Effect of Interrogating a Suspect at His Place of Work; Effect of Restraining Movement of Suspect; Telling the Suspect He Is Free to Leave or Can Refuse to Answer Questions

United States v. Jason Zabel, No. 21-5766, United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit




Defendant committed abusive sexual contact with a female National Park Service employee—a crime for which he pled guilty and received a sentence of 18 months’ imprisonment, followed by a life term of supervised release. On appeal, Zabel argues that the district court erred in denying his pre-guilty-plea motion to suppress incriminating statements he made to park rangers. . . . For the following reasons, we affirm the district court’s judgment and sentence.


United States Park Ranger William Jaynes responded to an incident report at Mammoth Cave. When he arrived at the parking lot, he encountered a “slightly out of breath” female archaeology technician whose job was to monitor a trail restoration project inside the cave. She explained that Jason Zabel, one of the contractors working on the restoration project, had just pinned her against a wall and attempted to kiss her, grabbed her buttocks and breasts, and exposed his penis to her without her consent while she was leaving the cave. Armed with a description of Zabel’s appearance and location, Ranger Jaynes and another park ranger who arrived on the scene entered the cave to find him.

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* Mr. Manak is an Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Illinois Law School at Chicago, formerly the John Marshall Law School; and has served on the faculty of Northwestern
University and as consultant to the National District Attorneys Association.

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