Judicial District of New Britain


      Criminal; Search and Seizure; Whether Defendant was "In Custody" for purposes of Miranda When Police Interrogated her During Execution of Search Warrant on her Residence.  The New Britain police obtained a search and seizure warrant for an apartment, suspecting that heroin was being sold there.  On entering the apartment, the officers gathered the defendant and three other occupants into the living room.  After securing the apartment, one of the officers asked the defendant if there were any drugs or weapons in the apartment.  The defendant responded in the affirmative and led the officer to her bedroom, where the officer discovered 235 packets of heroin.  The defendant was charged with possession of narcotics with intent to sell by a person who is not drug-dependent and possession of narcotics with intent to sell within 1500 feet of a public school.  Prior to trial, the defendant moved to suppress the statement that she made to the officer during the execution of the warrant on the ground that she was "in custody" when she made the statement, and she was not provided with a Miranda warning prior to the police questioning.  The trial court denied the motion, and the defendant was subsequently convicted of both charges.  The Appellate Court (129 Conn. App. 638) upheld the denial of the motion to suppress and affirmed the convictions, finding that the defendant was not in custody because the evidence did not show that she was subject to greater constraints on her freedom of movement than those normally occurring during the execution of a search and seizure warrant.  The Appellate Court further found that a reasonable person in the defendant's position at the time of the questioning would not have believed that she was in police custody of the degree associated with a formal arrest.  The court noted that, while the defendant was confined to the living room area, she was not handcuffed or physically restrained and that there was no evidence that any officer used or threatened the use of force against her or the other occupants or told her that she was under arrest.  Finally, the Appellate Court observed that the questioning occurred soon after the apartment was secured, transpired in the familiar surroundings of the defendant's residence and was limited in its scope and duration.  The Supreme Court will now decide whether the Appellate Court properly concluded that the defendant was not in custody for purposes of Miranda when the police officer interrogated her during the execution of the search warrant on her residence.