Do cops have to read Miranda rights?
Watch any courtroom drama on television or in the movies, and you’ll likely hear something about Miranda rights that have become a central element of police procedure. Miranda rights are named after the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case of Miranda v. Arizona and require police to inform individuals of their choices if they become suspected of a crime.
While Miranda rights are so well known that most people can recite at least some of them, they’re also controversial and sometimes misunderstood. Understanding the legal requirements of the Miranda decision can become a significant issue in a criminal case. If the police fail to administer the rights properly, it can prevent law enforcement from pursuing criminal charges.
If you’ve been charged with a crime, your attorneys will want to understand the circumstances of your arrest and how you were read your rights. The experienced criminal defense attorneys at De Castroverde Law Group of Las Vegas will explore every element of the case against you in developing a solid defense. Here’s what you need to know about Miranda rights.
What Are the Requirements of Miranda Rights?
The landmark ruling of Miranda v. Arizona covers the actions of law enforcement in cases from Arizona, Kansas, New York, and California. Each case involved the circumstances behind the interrogations of individuals considered suspects of separate criminal offenses.
In each situation, according to the U.S. Courts, law enforcement failed to provide the suspect with a “full and effective” warning of their rights before questioning began. The suspects admitted their crimes in all four cases, and three signed statements about their actions that were used against them in a trial.
The Supreme Court ruled that prosecutors can’t use statements from such interrogations unless the suspects have been adequately advised of their rights to the fullest extent possible. Therefore, according to the court, the defendant “must be warned prior to any questioning that he has the right to remain silent, that anything he says can be used against him in a court of law, that he has the right to the presence of an attorney, and that if he cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for him prior to any questioning if he so desires.”
Miranda rights are connected to the Fifth and Sixth Amendments of the Constitution. The Fifth Amendment protects the defendant against self-discrimination, while the Sixth Amendment guarantees the right to counsel.
Timing of the Miranda Warning
Under the Miranda decision and subsequent case, the Miranda warning applies only to custodial interrogations; in other words, once you’ve been arrested. Police have the right to ask questions to collect information for an investigation without reading Miranda rights when the person they’re questioning isn’t a suspect.
The threshold that courts often use is whether someone feels they are “free to go” from the custody of the police. There are several ways to evaluate the concept of “free to go.” If you’re in handcuffs or in an interrogation room, you may justifiably feel like you’re not allowed to return to your everyday life. By contrast, if an investigator approaches you in the street to ask your name and what you’ve seen, you’re not generally in police custody, and they don’t need to read you your rights.
Courts carefully examine the timing of a Miranda warning. If a suspect reads their rights, agrees to waive those rights, and then makes statements about an incident, those statements can be used against them in connection with a prosecution. Each case has its own facts, but some general principles are established through case law. For instance, the courts don’t consider a police officer asking for your license and registration as an interrogation.
The language used to explain Miranda rights may vary by state. Nevada’s Miranda warning is similar to many other states. It prescribes: “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in court. You have the right to an attorney. One will be provided for you if you cannot afford an attorney. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you? Do you wish to speak to me with these rights in mind?”
Some observers of court precedent believe that Miranda warnings may soon become enshrined in state lawto avoid the chance of the original 1966 ruling being overturned.
Exceptions to the Miranda Rights Rule
As is often the case under the law, exceptions to the Miranda warning exist. These exceptions recognize that some circumstances may justify the police continuing to question a subject regardless of whether the warnings have been read and whether they’ve been read at the right time.
According to MirandaWarning.org, the law recognizes three general exceptions:
- Booking exception: This exception exempts police from giving Miranda warnings for basic questions to establish someone’s identity. These might include someone’s name, address, and date of birth, and the law views these as innocuous questions not designed to get someone’s admission.
- Jailhouse informant exception: This exception covers situations where police negotiate the cooperation of someone in jail to help with an investigation. Under this exception, the interrogator isn’t expected to deliver Miranda warnings before asking questions. Informants may be promised certain benefits in exchange for their cooperation.
- Public safety exception: This exception is commonly invoked in emergencies, such as a kidnapping. In a situation when time is of the essence, police are allowed to continue asking questions as long as they believe it may help save someone who is at risk of significant harm. In some cases, admissions under this exception may still be evidence at trial.
Criminal Defense Services from De Castroverde Law Group
Miranda warnings are binding on the police. Questioning must stop immediately if you remain silent and/or ask for an attorney. If police continue questioning you even after you invoke your rights, it may put the criminal case against you at risk.
The attorneys at De Castroverde Law Group in Las Vegas will explore the circumstances of the Miranda warning in any case against you. Our team will fight hard to protect your rights across the entire length of a criminal case. Call us or contact us online for an immediate consultation.
Photo Credit: Miranda Warning by Mike Licht is licensed with CC BY 2.0