Kaupp v. Texas

PETITIONER: Robert Kaupp
LOCATION: Harris County Sheriff’s Department

DOCKET NO.: 02-5636
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1986-2005)
LOWER COURT: Texas Court of Criminal Appeals

CITATION: 538 US 626 (2003)
DECIDED: May 05, 2003
GRANTED: May 05, 2003

Facts of the case

In January 1999, a 14-year-old girl disappeared. The police discovered that she had been having a sexual relationship with her 19-year-old half-brother, who had been with Robert Kaupp on the day of the girl’s disappearance. The police questioned the girl’s half-brother and Kaupp at police headquarters and allowed Kaupp to leave. The half-brother later confessed to stabbing the missing girl and implicated Kaupp in the crime. The police failed to obtain a warrant to question Kaupp, but they went to his home in the middle of the night and were given permission to enter by Kaupp’s father. Police officers awakened Kaupp and said, “We need to go and talk,” and Kaupp responded, “Okay.” Wearing only his pajamas and no shoes, Kaupp was handcuffed and taken for questioning. There is no evidence that Kaupp was told he could decline to go with the officers for questioning. Kaupp was read his Miranda rights at the police station and, after being informed of the half-brother’s confession, admitted to some involvement in the crime. At trial, Kaupp moved to suppress his confession as the fruit of an illegal arrest. The motion was denied, and Kaupp was convicted of murder and sentenced to 55 years in prison. The Texas Court of Appeals confirmed the district court’s conviction and held that no arrest had occurred until after Kaupp’s confession because Kaupp’s statement indicated that he consented to going with the officers. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied discretionary review.


1. Does an arrest for which the police did not obtain a warrant and in which it was not clear that the suspect could decline to go with the police violate the Fourth Amendment?

2. If so, should the subsequent confession be suppressed?