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Oregon v. Elstad

Miranda Warnings, Inadmissible Confessions?, The Second Confession Is Admissible, Dissenting Opinions, Impact, Further Readings


State of Oregon


Michael James Elstad

Petitioner's Claim

The police obtained two confessions from a suspect. The first one was a voluntary admission obtained without Miranda warnings, and the second was a written confession made in full compliance with Miranda warnings. Petitioner claimed that the earlier voluntary admission made his subsequent, written confession inadmissible evidence.

Chief Lawyer for Petitioner

David B. Frohnmayer

Chief Lawyer for Respondent

Gary D. Babock

Justices for the Court

Harry A. Blackmun, Warren E. Burger, Sandra Day O'Connor (writing for the Court), Lewis F. Powell, Jr., William H. Rehnquist, Byron R. White

Justices Dissenting

William J. Brennan, Jr., Thurgood Marshall, John Paul Stevens


Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

4 March 1985


There was no question that the respondent's first confession was illegal since it was obtained without Miranda warnings. Nevertheless, because his admission of guilt was voluntary and because his second, written confession was preceded by properly administered Miranda warnings, the Court ruled that the second confession was admissible as evidence.


The Miranda rule dictates that failure to inform a suspect in custody of Miranda warnings creates a presumption of compulsion. The U.S. Supreme Court found that if a confession given without Miranda warnings was voluntary, then subsequent confessions are not tainted because the first was illegal. This decision provided law enforcement with more latitude when faced with an accommodating suspect who volunteers evidence or confession prior to waiving Miranda rights.

Related Cases

  • Bram v. United States, 168 U.S. 532 (1897).
  • United States v. Bayer, 311 U.S. 532 (1947).
  • Wong Sun v. United States, 371 U.S. 471 (1963).
  • Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966).
  • Michigan v. Tucker, 417 U.S. 433 (1974).
  • Edwards v. Arizona, 451 U.S. 477 (1981).

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1981 to 1988