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Having to interact with law enforcement is an intimidating experience for anyone. With that said, anyone who has watched a U.S. detective show or two can repeat the words, “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law…”. However, what do those words entail? In addition, are the police required to read the Miranda warning to you?

While the Miranda rights could have an impact on your case, failing to read you the Miranda warning doesn’t automatically mean that you are free to go. If you had a recent run-in with law enforcement and aren’t sure your rights were violated, you must get in contact with a criminal defense attorney.

What are Miranda rights?

Miranda rights refer to the constitutional requirement that once an individual is detained by the police but before they are interrogated, there are certain warnings a police officer must explain to the detainee, the right they have an attorney and against self-incriminating. The rights are also referred to as Miranda warning and stem from a 1966 Supreme Court case Miranda v. Arizona. 

The original case entailed the defendant Ernesto Miranda being accused in 1963 of kidnapping, raping, and robbing an 18-year-old woman. During a two-hour interrogation, Miranda confessed to the crimes. However, lawyers argued that Miranda wasn’t made aware of his rights to have an attorney and against self-incrimination and appealed the decision. The appeal would change the U.S. criminal procedure.

Why are Miranda Rights Important?

As mentioned, Miranda rights require the officers to make you aware of certain rights after your arrest and before questioning you. An officer will notify the person in custody that:

  • They have the right to remain silent
  • If they do say anything, it can be used against you in a court of law
  • They have the right to have a lawyer present during questioning
  •  If they can’t afford a lawyer, one will be appointed for you if you so desire.

The State of Texas can only use the statements said during custodial interrogation if the accused waived the rights from above knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently. This is typically not hard to prove, and the reality is that the accused must present evidence to convince a judge that the statements given weren’t given freely or voluntarily. Therefore, finding the right representation to help if you find yourself in this situation is important.

When is the Miranda warning required?

One of the most common misconceptions of when the police are required to read the Miranda warning is when it is applied. One of the requirements is that the questioning or the investigation must be done by the police. For example, if the questioning is being conducted by the security guard due to shoplifting, no Miranda rights are required to be explained if the suspect is being questioned.

The other requirement when police are required to read the Miranda warning is that the suspect must be in custody, meaning that their freedom of movement has to be restrained o the extent of traditional arrest. It doesn’t matter where the custody happens, the police must read the Miranda rights if they want to ask questions and use the answers as evidence at trial.

What is the difference between a police arrest and custody?

The terms arrest, and custody may seem synonymous, but they aren’t similar. In every arrest, there is custody, but every time someone is in custody, there is not necessarily an arrest.  An arrest is a mode of formally taking a person into police custody. On the other hand, “custody” means a person is not free to leave the area.

What are some things you may not have known about the Miranda right?

  • Miranda’s rights are not required to be read every time an officer interacts with you. In order for the Miranda rule to apply, one MUST be in custody AND being interrogated.
  • Police aren’t required to read your Miranda rights before or during the arrest. While some officers may do so, they are only legally obligated to “Mirandize” suspects who are being questioned in custody.
  • For the Miranda warning to apply, a person must meet two conditions: 1) being in custody and 2) must be under interrogation.

What happens if the police fail to give a Miranda warning?

Although a Miranda warning is required when one is interrogated in custody, that doesn’t mean that officers are always required todo so. If you happen to go down to the police station to speak to an officer, they aren’t required to read your Miranda warning and may still use the statement against you. Situations such as this are where the law can get tricky, and speaking with a criminal defense attorney is advised. 

Involuntary statements

Whether or not the Miranda warning was given, your statements may still be considered involuntarily if they were coerced in any way by law enforcement. To determine if your statement was voluntary, the court will consider many factors, including but not limited to the following:

  • What is your age, experience, and health with the criminal justice system?
  • Where did the interrogation take place?
  • How long did law enforcement question you? Long and tedious questioning that lasts several hours indicates the statement was involuntary.
  • Did law enforcement continue questioning you after you exercised your right to remain silent?
  • Was your statement voluntarily shared without any coercion from law enforcement?

If your Fifth or sixth Amendments were violated by police at the time of your arrest, you are entitled to have your statements to the police suppressed. If your statements to the police are suppressed, they cannot be used against you in a prosecution.

In order to start the process of getting your statements suppressed, you must speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney. Once you get in contact with an attorney, your defense attorney will need to file a motion to suppress your statement. There will likely be a hearing in which the judge will examine the issue of law as to whether your rights were violated. If the motion is granted, it may or may not result in the dismissal of your case, but it means that your statements:

  • May not be used against you in trial
  • If your case happens to go to trial, the jury may not be told that you exercised your right to remain silent.
  • Evidence discovered that was determined due to your involuntary statements or the failure of law enforcement to give the Miranda warning may not be used against you.

The Carlson Law Firm

If you or someone you love needs help to understand their rights under the criminal justice system, it is important that you get in contact with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Our criminal defense attorney can help. We offer free consultations to discuss your legal rights. We care and we can help. 

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