“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can, and will be used against you.” The first lines of your Miranda Rights are fairly recognizable from movies or TV. If you are a fan of cop or lawyer shows, you probably already know it by heart. Having to be read your Miranda Rights is an important facet of criminal law, it prevents a person from unknowingly giving up their fifth amendment right, as well as serving as a preventative measure for law enforcement officers abusing an individuals ignorance of the law.
When It Happens
Miranda Rights are to be given at a very specific time, when you are in custody, and are about to be directly questioned about something. For example, if you are arrested and brought to the police station, you have been taken into custody. If afterwards, you are brought to the interrogation room, prior to questioning, you should be read your rights. By having your Miranda Rights read to you, you are reminded of your right against self-incrimination, and thus any statement you make willingly after having waived those rights, would be admissible as evidence against you, should you be charged with a crime. If you do not waive your rights, or you ask for an attorney to be present to represent you during questioning, law enforcement is required to refrain from questioning you.
Many people’s first inclination when asked a question by the police is to answer it. However, if you are suspected to have committed some sort of criminal action, this is inherently against your interest. Most people do not realize this, and it is only after they are taken into custody that they realize their statements were not helpful towards them. We have at least one call a week during which someone has initial contact with police, gives what amounts to a confession, and the result of this is that they are arrested and charged. When they call our office, they want to know if their case can be thrown out since they had not been read their rights. The answer is simple: No.
Why is this, after all, it was a statement to the police? But if that was the case, everyone would have to be read their rights any time they were speaking with a member of law enforcement. Remember, there are two things that need to be present to trigger the reading of your Miranda Rights, 1.) Being in custody and 2.) being directly questioned about an incident or event. In the above example, a person is not in custody, and is simply making a voluntary statement to police, they are not formally being questioned by law enforcement. While that distinction may seem vague to some people, it is important and makes all of the difference.
What Happens If My Rights Are Violated?
If your Miranda Rights were violated, there is a possibility that the case against you may be able to be dismissed. Contact the attorneys at Nicholson & Gansner, S.C. to share your story.