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ROBERTS V. UNITED STATES, 445 U. S. 552 (1980)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Roberts v. United States, 445 U.S. 552 (1980)

Roberts v. United States

No. 78-1793

Argued January 14, 15, 1980

Decided April 15, 1980

445 U.S. 552


Held: The District Court properly considered, as one factor in imposing consecutive sentences on petitioner who had pleaded guilty to two counts of using a telephone to facilitate the distribution of heroin, petitioner's refusal to cooperate with Government officials investigating a related criminal conspiracy to distribute heroin in which he was a confessed participant. Pp. 445 U. S. 556-562.

(a) No misinformation of constitutional magnitude was present in this case; petitioner rebuffed repeated requests for his cooperation over a period of three years, and concedes that cooperation with the authorities is a "laudable endeavor" that bears a "rational connection to a defendant's willingness to shape up and change his behavior." By declining to cooperate, petitioner rejected an obligation of community life that should be recognized before rehabilitation can begin, and protected his former partners in crime, thereby preserving his ability to resume criminal activities upon release. Pp. 445 U. S. 556-558.

(b) Nor can petitioner's failure to cooperate be justified on the basis of fears of physical retaliation and self-incrimination, or on the ground that the District Court punished him for exercising his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. These arguments were raised for the first time in petitioner's appellate brief, neither petitioner nor his lawyer having offered any explanation to the sentencing court, even though it was known that petitioner's intransigency would be used against him. Although the requirement of Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U. S. 436, of specific warnings creates a limited exception to the rule that the privilege against self-incrimination is not self-executing, and must be claimed, the exception does not apply outside the context of the inherently coercive custodial interrogation for which it was designed, and here there was no custodial interrogation. Petitioner volunteered his confession at his first interview with investigators, after Miranda warnings had been given and at a time when he was free to leave. For the next three years, until the time when he received the sentence he now challenges, neither he nor his counsel -- who were both fully apprised that the extent of petitioner's cooperation could be expected to affect his sentence -- ever claimed that petitioner's unwillingness to cooperate chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 445 U. S. 553

was based upon the right to remain silent or the fear of self-incrimination. Pp. 445 U. S. 559-562.

195 U.S.App.D.C. 1, 600 F.2d 815, affirmed.

POWELL, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J.,and BRENNAN, STEWART, WHITE, BLACKMUN, REHNQUIST, and STEVENS, JJ., joined. BRENNAN, J., filed a concurring opinion, post, p. 445 U. S. 562. MARSHALL, J., filed a dissenting opinion, post, p. 445 U. S. 563.

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