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What if The Police Don't Read Me My Rights?

Oct. 16, 2020

According to the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark decision in Miranda v. Arizona, you have rights that police officers must advise you of after an arrest before questioning you. Officers must advise you that:

  1. You have the right to remain silent.

  2. If you do say anything, it can be used against you in a court of law.

  3. You have the right to have an attorney present during any questioning.

  4. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you if you so desire.

When Do Police Have to Read Me My Rights?

Many people believe that any time they talk to police, police must advise them of their rights, but that's not correct. Police must warn you of your Miranda rights only if you are under arrest (i.e., “in custody”). If the police have placed you under arrest or in the equivalent of arrest and you are not free to leave if you choose, then you are considered to be “in custody.” Under these circumstances, you must first be advised of your rights in order for anything you say to be used against you in a court of law. However, the police are not required advise you of your Miranda rights if when they question you about a crime you are free to leave at any time.

For example, if you've been pulled over for a DUI, the police are allowed to question you before they arrest you. That's because you aren't considered to be in custody. Once you're placed under arrest, police have to read you your rights. You are not required to answer the questions of the police officer as he is conducting a DUI investigation, but the officer is also not required to read you your rights under he places you under arrest.

Another common situation is when police ask you to come to the police station to answer "a few questions" or to "tell your side of the story." In most of those circumstances, you are not considered to be in custody and the police don't have to read you your right. It's always a good idea to ask police, "Am I free to leave?"

It's a better idea to wait until you've consulted a lawyer before even engaging with the police.

If I Assert My Right to Silence (Plead the 5th), Can Police Still Question Me?

Police are still allowed to ask some kinds of questions even if you assert your Miranda rights. If you are suspected of committing a crime and invoke your Miranda rights, officers must cease all questioning about the crime. However, officers may still ask questions that are not designed to illicit an incriminating responses.

However, if after invoking your Miranda rights, you volunteer incriminating information, it can be used against you even though you previously invoked your Miranda rights.

Do People Other than Police Have to Read Me My Rights Before Questioning Me?

Miranda warning does not apply under certain circumstances. The Miranda rule applies only to government or state agents such as police officers or prosecutors. Undercover agents, jailhouse or confidential informants and private citizens are not required to warn you of your Miranda rights before questioning you about a crime.

What Happens if Police Don't Read Me My Rights?

Many people also believe that if the police don't read you your rights, the whole case gets dismissed. But that's not true either. Failure to Mirandize only precludes your statements from being used against you at trial. A violation of your Miranda rights does not automatically result in your charges being thrown out. The only thing you can expect at trial is for the court to rule your statements inadmissible, meaning that any statements you made in violation of your Miranda rights cannot be used as evidence against you at trial. If the police have other evidence against you, you can still be tried and potentially convicted.

Charlottesville Criminal Defense Atttorney

Many people don't understand their rights. Make sure you understand your options and your rights. If you have been contacted by the police or charged with a crime, do not hesitate to contact Bryan J. Jones today.