But the Officer Didn't Even Read Me My Rights!

Clients frequently tell me that the arresting officer did not read them their rights. While this always piques my interest, it is not always critical in the ultimate outcome of the case. We all watch television and movies, and through these media we are inundated with the idea that police officers have to read suspects their rights. This is true... sometimes. The rights we are talking about come from the case of Miranda v. Arizona, a 1966 Supreme Court case establishing the requirement that officers must advise a suspect of their rights to (a) remain silent, and (b) have counsel present at a custodial interrogation.

The reality is that rights advisements are only required for suspects who are "in custody" and being "interrogated." So how do law enforcement officers get around this requirement? Well, for starters, they may tell you before beginning an interview that "you are free to leave at any time." By saying this, you are no longer considered to be "in custody." Unfortunately, many people are so intimidated by their surroundings (police station, badges, guns, etc.) that they do not really feel free to leave, no matter what the officer says. Also, officers will often gather all the incriminating statements they need before placing someone under arrest. Then, after the arrest, they will not ask them any questions at all.

I see this all the time. Individuals confess to committing crimes while they are not in custody, and then are upset that the officer did not read them their rights after the officer placed them under arrest. The officer did not read them their rights because he was done with his questioning before he arrested them! It's that simple. No rights advisement is required if no questions are asked. In fact, if a talkative suspect feels the need to spill the beans without being asked any questions at all, officers are not required to stop him for a rights advisement. The statement is treated as voluntary and can be used in court.

Miranda warnings are some of the most contentious areas of criminal law. Aggressive prosecutors and vote-seeking politicians have been eating away at this fundamental American right since 1966. Are you facing criminal charges where you made statements against your interest? Call us! We may be able to help! Miranda v. Arizona is your ally, let's sit down and see how it can be applied to your case.

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