On April 14, the D.C. District Court issued a decision in U.S. v. Richardson that included a nice discussion of the current circuit split over whether handcuffing a suspect automatically creates a "custodial" situation for purposes of triggering the duty to provide Miranda warnings before police ask any questions. Here is the relevant paragraph:
The D.C. Circuit has thus far declined to reach the question of whether a defendant is in “custody” for the purposes of Miranda when she is handcuffed during the execution of a search warrant. See, e.g., United States v. Brinson-Scott, 714 F.3d 616, 621 (D.C. Cir. 2013); United States v. Harris, 515 F.3d 1307, 1311 (D.C. Cir. 2008); United States v. Gaston, 357 F.3d 77, 82 (D.C. Cir. 2004). Other Circuits are split on whether handcuffing during the course of a search generally renders a defendant in “custody” for the purposes of Miranda. Compare United States v. Leshuk, 65 F.3d 1105, 1109-10 (4th Cir. 1995) (handcuffing a suspect does not necessarily elevate detention to custody within the meaning of Miranda), and United States v. Bautista, 684 F.2d 1286, 92 (9th Cir. 1982) (defendant placed in handcuffs during detention was not in custody within the meaning of Miranda), with United States v. Cowan, 674 F.3d 947, 957-58 (8th Cir. 2012) (defendant placed in handcuffs and detained during execution of a search warrant is in custody where handcuffed), cert. denied, 133 S. Ct. 379 (2012), and United States v. Newton, 369 F.3d 659, 676 (2d Cir. 2004) (“[A] reasonable person finding himself placed in handcuffs by the police would ordinarily conclude . . . that he was restrained to a degree normally associated with formal arrest and, therefore, in custody.”). It is clear, however, that the use of handcuffs is a relevant factor in a court’s determination of the “custody” question. See Brinson- Scott, 714 F.3d at 621 (collecting cases); see also Peterson, 506 F. Supp. 2d at 23 (noting that handcuffs during execution of a search warrant does not per se amount to custody, but use of handcuffs is a significant factor).
If it matters what most citizens think, I believe most people perceive they are in police custody once they are handcuffed.