I Wasn’t Read My Miranda Rights, So Shouldn’t My Case be Dismissed?

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From time to time, we receive calls from people that have recently been arrested and have concerns about the arresting police officer not reading them their rights.  These people are referencing what is commonly referred to as the “Miranda Warning.”  As far as answering whether or not a case should be dismissed because the police failed to give the Miranda Warning—-the answer is…..it depends.

Popular television shows have educated the public about the Miranda Warning.  The Miranda Warning is referencing the protection of an individual’s 5th Amendment right to remain silent.  For the Miranda protection to apply, an individual must 1) be in custody, and 2) be subject to custodial interrogation.  Every individual has the right to remain silent, and the government should not question those in custody without first advising them of this right.  If the government fails to advise an individual of their right to remain silent before questioning them, it invites a motion to suppress evidence based on the police’s deprivation of the individual’s Constitutional rights.

Typically, the image that people think of when trying to picture someone “in custody” involves a person in handcuffs, in an interrogation room, or in a jail cell.  The law has a broader definition.  For purposes of Miranda, an individual is “in custody” so long as an ordinary prudent person would not feel free to leave while in contact with a police officer or detective.  Although this seems like a simple concept, several court rulings have clouded what constitutes “in custody.”  For instance, the United States Supreme Court has held that a person is NOT in custody for purposes of Miranda during routine traffic stops.  Traffic stops, according to the Supreme Court, are generally brief in nature, and do not rise to the same level of government intrusion as a formal arrest.  It is possible that a person subject to a traffic stop can transition to “in custody” based on how the stop unfolds and if it is prolonged by the police.  Generally, courts will look at the totality of the circumstance surrounding the interaction between the citizen and the police to determine whether or not the citizen is in custody.

The second prong of Miranda involves whether an individual is subject to custodial interrogation.  Custodial Interrogation occurs when police ask questions that could potentially lead a detained individual to make an incriminating response.  It is important to note that this protection is not limited just to police questions.  The protection extends to any statement the police make that could elicit any incriminating response from the detained individual.  In other words, the police are not allowed to try and “guilt trip” a person into a confession absent a Miranda Warning.

Going back to the original question, it is important to understand that even if incriminating statements are suppressed due to a violation of Miranda, only the statements themselves, as well as any potential evidence derived from those statements, are excluded from trial.  The State may not automatically dismiss the case if they lose on the Miranda issue.  There might be other evidence the State could rely upon in their prosecution.  Nevertheless, it is incredibly important to have an experienced defense attorney that can navigate these complex issues and attack whatever evidence the State may try and rely upon.

Do you or someone you know have a question about Miranda Warnings?  Do you think that the police may have violated your Constitutional rights?  Call the experienced attorneys at Banks & Brower, LLC.  We are available at all times by calling us at (317) 870-0019, or by emailing info@banksbrower.com.