You might think you can get out of arrest if your Miranda Rights aren’t read. This isn’t entirely true, but read this article to see what you can do.
If you were to find yourself in a situation with police activity, do you know your Miranda rights? Do you know the difference between Miranda rights and Miranda warnings?
Most people have heard the paragraph read in movies and on TV. Many of us can recite the Miranda warning. But, if you are the one answering if you understand what they have told you, what will you say?
If you are in this situation, you should have an experienced San Antonio criminal defense lawyer. The attorney will help you understand the law and your rights.
Why Did Miranda Rights Become Law?
The original Miranda decision dates to March 2, 1963. An 18-year-old Phoenix woman called the police and reported being kidnapped. She told police the suspect drove her into the desert and raped her.
The police tracked the license plate number of a car matching the one the victim described. This led the police to Ernesto Miranda, who had a prior record. Even though Miranda was not identified by the victim in a line-up, the police took him in for questioning.
Unsurprisingly, the officers left the interrogation with a confession. Miranda had no legal representation nor did anyone tell him that he did not have to say anything. (As an aside, never talk to any law enforcement, insurance companies, or any person about any legal matter without first speaking to a lawyer).
Miranda later recanted his confession. The confession was brief and did not match the victim’s account of what happened. The court found Miranda guilty of the crime and put him in prison.
In 1966, the Supreme Court made a decision in Miranda v. Arizona. This established that all suspects must have their rights read before questioning. It is now a standard police procedure.
Your Miranda Warning Explained
It is important to understand what the police officer is telling you when reading your rights.
“You have the right to remain silent”
This is your constitutional right. You do not have to say anything. You may or may not choose to exercise this right.
The suspect must still answer questions about their name, age, and address. In fact, failure to identify yourself can be a criminal offense in Texas. Police officers can search the person to protect the officers and others from harm, although this pat down search search is limited in terms of what is allowed. If a person confesses voluntarily before the officer reads the Miranda warning, this is admissible in court.
“Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law”
You need to understand that the prosecutor will use anything you say against you. It will not benefit your case. Even innocent persons should decline to give a statement without consulting a lawyer. Prof. James Duane gives the most famous explanation for why nobody should ever talk to the police in this video. https://youtu.be/i8z7NC5sgik“You have the right to an attorney”
Every person has a right to an attorney. If the person requests an attorney, then, generally, the officer must not ask questions until the attorney arrives. However, you should affirmatively assert your 5th Amendment right by saying “I do NOT wish to speak without an attorney and I assert my 4th, 5th, and 6th Amendment rights” and then remain silent. Or just stay silent after identifying yourself.
“If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you”
If a person can’t afford an attorney, they still have the right to wait for a court-appointed attorney. Until that attorney arrives, no one can question them about the situation. Thus, if you say you want a court-appointed attorney, don’t talk after that.
The right to receive an attorney is not a given right. You must state, “I want an attorney. I will not talk until I have an attorney.” This makes it clear that you are invoking your right.
Police departments in Indiana, New Jersey, Nevada, Oklahoma, and Alaska have more rules. They add this sentence: “We have no way of giving you a lawyer, but one will be appointed for you, if you wish, if and when you go to court.” In Texas, many officers will still attempt to ask if you want to waive your right to an attorney. Just calmly repeat your request for an attorney.
The suspect must clearly and verbally answer this question. Silence can cause courts to assume that they waive their rights.
The suspect may not understand the Miranda warning. They may not speak English. In this case, the suspect must have a translator read the Miranda warning.
“Do you understand the rights I have just read to you?”
Make sure that you understand all of your rights. If not, tell them you do not understand.
“With these rights in mind, do you wish to speak to me?”
It is your choice to speak or not. You revoke your rights when you decide to talk with the police after hearing and agreeing to your rights.
If you waive your Miranda rights and then change your mind at any time, you may plead the fifth. This means that you no longer wish to answer questions and that you want an attorney present.
What Is the Difference Between Miranda Rights and Miranda Warnings?
The Miranda rights refer to the rights that all United States citizens have. The Miranda warning is the statement read to you by the police informing you of those rights.
When Are the Police Required to Read the Miranda Warning?
The officer reads the Miranda warning to the suspect when taking them into custody. Interrogation is not to begin until after the reading of the rights. Interrogation describes the officer’s questioning of the suspect about his/her activity related to the crime.
Are There Times When the Officer Is Not Required to Read the Miranda Warning?
There are, in fact, times when the officer is not required to read the Miranda warning. This applies if the officer is not interrogating about an existing crime.
One example is in the case of a DUI arrest. The officer is not considered to be interrogating the person when asking for Field Sobriet Tests. However, you may still refuse to take those tests.
When public safety is at risk, the officer may question the suspect without first reading the Miranda warning. In this case, evidence gathered during the questioning can be used against the suspect.
Miranda warnings serve to protect people’s Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. The warning is not about the arrest procedure.
What Happens If the Miranda Warning Is Not Read?
It varies depending on the case. What was the issue of concern? What information did the officer learn during questioning?
As noted, DUI cases do not generally require the reading of the Miranda warning. If it was a murder case and the Miranda warning was not read, this is different.
If the interrogation reveals evidence that proves the murder, the case could be dismissed. Another option is that the evidence will be excluded from the trial.
Our law office in San Antonio, Texas, has experience with a wide range of criminal cases. Most of our practice focuses on criminal defense. As such, we stay up to date with ever-evolving laws and changes in the legal community.
If you believe you have a violation of your Miranda rights, contact us today. You will have the full force of our extensive knowledge, experience, and resources at your disposal.