The Police Didn’t Read Me My Miranda Rights
Anyone who has watched a police procedural on television is likely familiar with the refrain: “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 an attorney, one will be provided for you.” This schpiel is referred to as your Miranda rights.
While these words may seem like a simple routine, they are an integral part of your rights as initially spelled out in the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which protects you from self-incrimination.
Furthermore, the line heard on the television show typically omits the end of the standard Miranda rights recitation. These rights are so important for all of us that it’s crucial we understand them fully, rather than relying on fictional TV shows.
In fact, according to a 2011 study presented at the American Psychological Association, nearly a million cases each year are affected by a suspect’s misunderstanding of their rights or some other Miranda rights violation. Of those, a third are due to mental health issues, while another third involve juvenile suspects.
As defense attorneys here in the great state of Texas, we want to provide you with a complete guide to your Miranda rights. Everyone deserves to have their precious constitutional rights protected, and the first step to doing so is understanding them yourself.
So if you’re wondering, “What are Miranda rights?” — look no further!
The History Behind Miranda Rights
Before we explain some of the basic details that govern the application of Miranda rights, it’s worth exploring the history behind them.
In 1963, Ernesto Miranda was arrested as the suspect in kidnapping and rape. He was not identified in a lineup, but under interrogation, he confessed — though the confession did not line up exactly with the victim’s account of the crime. Furthermore, his appointed lawyer, who only received $100, failed to call a witness during his trial.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) took an appeal case, known as Miranda v. Arizona, to the Supreme Court in 1966. Although the case overturned Miranda’s initial conviction, he was retried and found guilty again.
However, at the core of the ACLU’s case was the assertion Miranda did not understand his rights. Therefore, the ACLU claimed the interrogation violated his rights, as it took advantage of his ignorance of his right to remain silent — an integral component of his right to avoid self-incrimination.
As a result of the case, police are now required to inform you of your rights of silence and attorney consultation as a means of ensuring all suspects in custody give information willingly.
What Are Your Miranda Rights?
As we mentioned above, the common TV show litany isn’t a full recitation of your Miranda rights. While they do spell out two of the biggest aspects, it is important to understand the full scope of your Miranda rights.
“The right to remain silent.”
As the Fifth Amendment clearly states, you cannot be legally compelled to incriminate yourself. That means your refusal to answer a question cannot be construed as an admission of guilt.
Many people assume that if you don’t have anything to hide, you shouldn’t have to worry about sharing the information you do have. However, even if you are innocent and you never make a full confession, you can inadvertently provide enough irrelevant, but unknowingly suspicious, information that you might be found guilty anyway.
Furthermore, when questioned, you may accidentally reveal information about another unconnected crime, thus exposing yourself to future prosecution when you are being investigated for something unrelated.
“Everything you do say is potential evidence.”
During a criminal investigation, police will often question numerous people and construct a case using the data they collect. What may seem unimportant to you could be the key to the case later down the road.
For this reason, it’s important to realize everything and anything you decide to share has the chance of becoming evidence in a case against you.
Furthermore, police interrogators are trained to get you to share information you might not otherwise. They want you to make a mistake, become inconsistent in your story or give away something inadvertently. Sometimes, they’ll make you extremely comfortable, to the point that you let something slip. Or, they might make you extremely scared, so you blurt something out.
“You have the right to have an attorney present.”
Working with an attorney is one of the best ways to protect yourself from accidentally revealing information you shouldn’t. An attorney will be able to advise you when the police are using certain tactics, and they can help slow down an interrogation so you can answer questions with a clear mind.
Remember, you are not a professional suspect, but the police are professional interrogators. Therefore, it makes sense to have a professional on your side who can make sure it’s a fair fight. Additionally, an attorney is the only person who is legally allowed to assist you during an interrogation. Not only are they an advocate for your cause, but they will provide invaluable emotional and moral support, helping you remain calm and focused under incredible mental pressure.
Moreover, if you aren’t completely clear on your full rights, interrogators can take advantage of that. An attorney is a professional interpreter of your rights and the many specifics and intricacies of the law. Every potential slip-up and pitfall could eventually lead toward a conviction. An attorney ensures you are fully prepared to navigate the complicated legal justice system.
“If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you.”
Because our legal system assumes everyone, regardless of how much money they have, is entitled to the same protections as the wealthy, there is a public defense system. This system ensures even if you cannot afford a lawyer, you can still be represented throughout your interaction with the police.
Taxpayer money pays for public defense attorneys, meaning you won’t be charged for their services. While there are plenty of reasons for spending money on a lawyer if you can, it is crucial to exercise this right if you can’t.
Do not answer any questions until a lawyer has entered the room and has had a chance to discuss things with you. Because your conversations with your lawyer are private, you will have a chance to explain your situation without fear of being prosecuted fully. Once you have conferred with your lawyer, you can begin telling the police your side of the story, with suggestions from your attorney.
“You can end the interview at any point.”
This is the part of the Miranda speech that is often excluded from the television script. Even if you start talking, you always have the opportunity to declare your intention to remain silent and ask for a lawyer. While it is always wise to remain silent from the moment you enter the interrogation room, if you have started talking, you can still stop the interview mid-sentence and declare your desire for a lawyer.
No matter where you are in your conversation, and no matter how much the interrogators continue to ask you questions, you can always change your mind and decide silence is your best option.
When Must Police Read You Your Rights?
On TV, the police usually recite Miranda rights at the moment of arrest. While this does happen sometimes, it isn’t required by law.
By law, police need to inform you of your Miranda rights before they begin what is known as a “custodial interrogation.” In other words, the moment they plan on asking you questions, they need to make sure you are fully aware of your rights.
However, the moment of arrest does matter, as they cannot ask you any questions before reading you your rights. That’s why arresting police often inform you of your rights at the moment of arrest. If a suspect starts talking about the crime while they are in the back of the police car, before they have been read their rights, that evidence is inadmissible in court. However, if a suspect has been informed of their rights and still starts talking about a crime while being transported to the station, that information can become as evidence.
Do Police Have to Read You Your Rights?
Technically, no. If they never plan on interrogating you, they do not need to read you your rights. However, if they ask you any questions while they have you in custody, then yes, they must read you your rights.
What If I Talk to Someone Else?
It is important to understand Miranda rights only cover your conversations with police. Therefore, if you happen to speak to a civilian about your actions while you are in custody, that information is permissible in court. So if you are going to be silent, that means being silent around everyone other than your attorney. Even if you are talking to a family member with no police present, that conversation can still become evidence if it gets recorded.
What If I Confess to a Police Officer Before I’m Arrested?
It’s also important to understand a police officer is only required to inform you of your rights once you are under arrest. If you walk up to a police officer and admit to committing a crime, that admission of guilt can be used against you.
What If I Act Guilty, but Never Say It?
If your actions are incriminating, but you keep your mouth shut, your actions can still be used against you. If you are being arrested for public drunkenness, for example, your stumbling can be used as evidence, even if you’ve never been informed of your Miranda rights.
What If Police Didn’t Read Me My Rights?
Many people wrongly assume a judge will automatically throw the case out if they haven’t been read their Miranda rights. However, there are a lot of ways you can still be convicted, even if you haven’t been read your rights. With that in mind, it’s important to understand what becomes inadmissible without being read your Miranda rights, and what is.
Miranda rights only cover what you say.
Many people assume Miranda rights are required before anyone can be arrested. That’s not true. Miranda rights are required for you to be interrogated. If you get arrested, but never questioned, you technically don’t need to be read your rights.
If you are arrested, and you have incriminating evidence on your person, you do not to be informed of your rights for that evidence to be used against you.
If you are arrested, and you are under the influence, blood tests or breathalyzers do not fall under the umbrella of Miranda rights.
If there is enough evidence that your confession isn’t necessary, Miranda rights are irrelevant.
Let’s say a suspect is arrested and never read her rights. Unfortunately, there is plenty of other forensic evidence, and therefore she is found guilty without a confession or any evidence from her interrogation.
In this instance, the fact that she was never read her Miranda rights is completely irrelevant. All the other evidence is admissible, even though the suspect was never read her rights. Even if there was an interrogation and that interrogation did not follow procedure and was thus inadmissible, if the rest of the evidence is overwhelming, the defendant can still be convicted.
You can still assert your rights before a judge.
However, if you and your attorney feel your rights have been violated, you should assert that in front of a judge. While you likely won’t have your case thrown out, you may be able to compel a judge to render portions of the state’s evidence inadmissible.
That being said, the process of making a motion and getting the judge to rule in your favor can be complicated. That’s why a good lawyer is so important. In court, just being right may not be enough. You also need to make your case using the proper procedure. The vast majority of civilians are not prepared to do that. Lawyers are.
Where Should I Turn to Ensure My Miranda Rights Are Protected?
If you live in Texas, you need a criminal defense lawyer in Texas. Only then will you be assured you have the best representation in any potential Miranda rights violation cases.
Here at the Law Offices of Morales & Sparks, we have the extensive knowledge of the law and the deep empathy for our clients to ensure we defend your case with compassion and competency. We strive to give our clients a holistic defense so families can remain intact regardless of the situation. As we always say, our clients are treated like family, defended like family.
If you feel your Miranda rights have been violated or you want the kind of representation that ensures they aren’t violated in the first place, contact us today!
Disclaimer: The purpose of this post is to provide general information and is not to be constituted as legal advice. If you need help with a specific issue, please seek the advice of an attorney. Morales & Sparks does not condone the use of violence at protests.