We’ve all seen that dramatic TV moment where the cops arrive and, while placing the suspect in handcuffs, begin to articulate “you have the right to remain silent…” These TV actors are reciting what is known as the Miranda Rights.
But what happens in situations where an officer fails to advise you of your Miranda Rights? The answer is not as straightforward as you may think.
In this article, we’ll provide you with a brief overview of what happens when the police fail to read you your rights.
What Are My Miranda Rights?
The Miranda warning requires law enforcement officers to read a series of statements advising you of your constitutional rights prior to interrogation. This is a requirement guaranteed to you by the U.S. Constitution.
The Miranda Rights are rooted in the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination and the Sixth Amendment right to counsel. This means that when an officer reads you the Miranda warning, according to the law, you are not required to talk to the police and you are allowed to contact an attorney.
When is the Miranda Warning Required?
If you are placed in custody, the police must read you your Miranda Rights prior to interrogation. This process of interrogation can occur anywhere—but no matter where you are, if you are in custody, meaning that you are deprived of your freedom to leave, an officer must read you the Miranda Warning.
The key factor to pay attention to here is whether or not you are in police custody.
If you are NOT in police custody, then the Miranda Warning is NOT required. This means that the police are allowed to question you and use your testimony in a court of law without reading you your rights if you are not in their custody. Even if you are subsequently arrested, testimonials given prior to the time of detainment can be used against you because technically you were not in the custody of the police at that time and the Miranda Warning was not yet mandated.
As a general rule of thumb, if you are unsure whether or not you are under arrest, ask the police if you are under arrest.
If you are not under arrest, ask to leave.
If you are under arrest, insist on speaking with your lawyer before answering any questions. Virtually every experienced criminal defense lawyer advises their clients to remain silent once an arrest has been made.
What if Police Fail to Read My Rights?
Many people believe that if the police fail to deliver the Miranda Warning, they will escape conviction of suspected criminal acts. Not quite.
Rather, if you were arrested and the police failed to advise you of your rights, any statements or confessions made will be thrown out of the case because such statements are presumed to be involuntary. As a consequence, any evidence discovered as a result of such confessions is also likely to be tossed from the case.
If there is no other evidence available to otherwise convict you of a crime, then your case will be dismissed. However, if the police have evidence from other valid sources, your court preceding will continue at the exclusion of previously mentioned involuntary statements.
If you believe your Miranda rights have been violated, the best thing you can do is reach out to a criminal defense attorney. Seeking the advice of an experienced law professional can not only guide you through the process of trial in court but also help you obtain the best possible results for your case.