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Just as there is no right to a jury trial before probation may be revoked, neither is the privilege against compelled self-incrimination available to a probationer. It follows that whether or not the answer to a question about a residential requirement is compelled by the threat of revocation, there can be no valid claim of the privilege on the ground that the information sought can be used in revocation proceedings. A State may validly insist on answers to even incriminating questions and hence sensibly administer its probation system, as long as it recognizes that the required answers may not be used in a criminal proceeding and thus eliminates the threat of incrimination. Under such circumstances, a probationer's right to immunity as a result of his compelled testimony would not be at stake and nothing in the Federal Constitution would prevent a State from revoking probation for a refusal to answer that violated an express condition of probation or from using the probationer's silence as one of a number of factors to be considered by the finder of fact in deciding whether other conditions of probation have been violated.
A defendant against whom a Minnesota grand jury had returned an indictment charging first-degree murder sought to suppress testimony concerning his confession at a meeting with a probation officer with whom he was required to meet as a condition of his probation following conviction of an earlier, separate charge. The defendant claimed that the confession was obtained in violation of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments because the probation officer had not warned him of his right against self-incrimination. The Minnesota trial court ruled that the confession was admissible because the defendant was not "in custody" at the time of the statement and the confession was neither compelled nor involuntary despite the absence of warnings as to his rights. The Minnesota Supreme Court reversed on federal constitutional grounds in that, although the Fifth Amendment privilege generally was not self-executing, and although the defendant was not in custody in the usual sense, the defendant's failure to claim the privilege when he was questioned was not fatal to his claim because of the compulsory nature of the meeting, because the defendant was under court order to respond truthfully to the probation officer's questions, and because the probation officer had substantial reason to believe that the defendant's answers were likely to be incriminating.
Were the admissions made by the defendant to his probation officer concerning an earlier unrelated crime admissible in the subsequent prosecution for a separate crime, notwithstanding the fact that the probation officer had not warned the defendant of his rights against self-incrimination at the probation interview?
The U.S. Supreme Court held that the admissions made by the defendant to his probation officer concerning the earlier unrelated crime were admissible in the subsequent prosecution for a separate crime notwithstanding that the probation officer had not warned the defendant of his rights against self-incrimination at the probation interview. The Court pointed out that a state may require a probationer to appear and discuss matters that affect his probationary status, and such a requirement, without more, would not give rise to an exception to the general rule that the privilege against self-incrimination must be asserted. The Court further pointed out that a probationer confronted with incriminating questions at a meeting with his probation officer ordinarily will have no problem effectively claiming the privilege against self-incrimination at the time disclosures were requested, and he should not therefore be excused from the requirement of asserting the privilege against self-incrimination in a timely manner. Accordingly, the Court reversed the decision of the lower court.