We all know the Miranda Warning from TV: “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford one, an attorney can be provided to you. Do you understand these rights as they have been read to you?”
The suspect at this point must give a clear affirmative verbal answer to the Miranda Warning. However, the story doesn’t end there. If during or prior to questioning, you can exercise your Miranda Rights by telling the police you would like to remain silent and that you would like an attorney. The interrogation will need to cease because of these two statements. However, you will still be required to answer questions about your name, age, and address.
As with all things, there are certain required events, which will cause the police to give a suspect the Miranda warning. Did you know that arrests can occur without the Miranda Warning being explained? If the police later decide to interrogate the suspect, the Miranda Warning needs to be given to the suspect. In cases where public safety is at risk, questions can be asked by the police without the Miranda Warning being given.
As you can see Miranda Rights are not black and white. If you are still unclear, you can call me and we can discuss your situation. Depending on the specific circumstances, Miranda could be in play or at all. Not every interaction with police requires Miranda Rights to be read. Thanks to persistent cutting down of these rights by appellate courts, police are required to read your Miranda Warning to you only when you are in police custody and being interrogated as a potential criminal suspect, also called a “custodial interrogation.” In short, in order for the Miranda warning to be read either:
- The suspect needs to be under arrest
- The suspect is in a situation where a reasonable person would feel they are under arrest. Also the police are questioning you with respect to their investigation.
Thanks to this reduction of the Miranda right, your situation might not require a Miranda Warning. For example, you are not required to receive a Miranda Warning for a roadside OUI stop, or if you freely consent to police questioning during an investigation. There is also another important point to remember, in order to have a statement suppressed under Miranda it needs to be incriminating. This means if you answer with denials and make no admissions, there is nothing to suppress.
On the other hand, if you find yourself in a custodial interrogation, such as if the police questioning becomes accusatory towards you, the police must inform you of your Miranda rights. If they do not, then any incriminating statements you make cannot be used against you at later court proceedings, including a trial. Overall, because Miranda Rights apply under such a narrow set of circumstances, fewer situations require Miranda than the average person might think.