All About Miranda Rights… What You Need to Know

When do the police give Miranda rights?

A popular misconception, based on movies and television, is that the police read Miranda rights to a suspect upon arrest. In truth, this rarely happens. More commonly, police put people in situations that encourage them to talk voluntarily. They do this in a way that does not violate Miranda and thus they have a better chance of obtaining evidence that is useful to a prosecution.

A violation of Miranda can result in a court ruling that a statement made by a suspect cannot be used as evidence. A Miranda violation does not result in a dismissal of charges. The police are required to give Miranda Rights to a suspect, who is in custody, before questioning. If the police fail to read Miranda rights in this situation, the prosecutor cannot use that person’s answers as evidence against the suspect at trial. Questions posed to a person who is “in custody” is called interrogation.

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What Are Miranda Rights?

Popularly known as the Miranda warning (ordered by the U.S. Supreme Court in Miranda v. Arizona), a defendant who is under arrest or “in custody” has the following rights:

  • You have the right to remain silent.
  • If you do say anything, what you say can be used against you in a court of law.
  • You have the right to consult with a lawyer and have that lawyer present during any questioning.
  • If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be appointed for you if you so desire.
  • If you choose to talk to the police officer, you have the right to stop the interview at any time.

Do cops have to read Miranda rights?

If a person is in custody, the police must read them their Miranda rights if they want to question the suspect. Reading Miranda rights to a person in custody is required if they want to use the suspect’s answers as evidence at trial. Custody doesn’t necessarily mean in jail. Custody means when a person’s liberty is substantially impaired. Basically, the test is whether the person was free to leave or whether a reasonable person would have felt free to leave when being questioned by law enforcement.

If a person is not in police custody, however, no Miranda warning is required and anything the person says can be used at trial if the person is later charged with a crime. This is true even if the person answers the questions of the police.

When are you supposed to be read your Miranda rights?

Before questioning! If someone is arrested and the police do not give Miranda rights before questioning, then the statements of the suspect must be suppressed by the court in most circumstances. Sometimes police will ask a few questions and then give Miranda. This is a dirty tactic and only a zealous and fearless criminal defense lawyer is qualified to stand up to the police when they’ve clearly done something illegal and underhanded.

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What amendment do Miranda rights fall under?

A police officer generally cannot arrest a person simply for failure to respond to questions. The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees the “right of silence.” This means that unless a police officer has “probable cause” to make an arrest or a “reasonable suspicion” to conduct a “stop and frisk,” a person approached by the police officer has the legal right to refuse to answer questions. Indeed, a person who has reason to believe that he or she is a potential suspect should politely decline to answer questions, at least until after consulting an attorney. The best possible thing to say is, “I respectfully decline to answer your questions. I invoke my right to remain silent. I am requesting an attorney.”

The right to remain silent does not protect a person who gives a false name or other false information to the police. You can remain silent but lying to the police is a crime in Michigan.

The best thing to do is decline to answer questions without a lawyer present. The police are not seeking the truth, they are building a case. Anything you say or do, will be interpreted as evidence of a crime, even an inadvertent expression, blink or sign of nervousness.

Questioning After the Arrest

Never speak to the police or answer questions after an arrest. Period.

Suspects all too frequently unwittingly reveal information that can later be used as evidence of their guilt. People frequently agree to cooperate with police questioning because they believe they are innocent or think that it would look suspicious if they remained silent. This being said, more than half of the criminal cases charged in Michigan would disappear if people kept their mouths shut. Remember, the police are looking to build a case and will likely interpret anything a suspect says or does as evidence of guilt. Even when an inculpatory statement is not made, police often look more minor inconsistencies or minor errors in facts which are later used to show that a person was “dishonest.” Worse yet, when everything else fails, police will say that a person was nervous when answering questions and appeared to be dishonest or evasive. The bottom line is that talking with the police ALWAYS works out very badly for the suspect.

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Consequences of Failure to Provide Miranda Warning

Without a Miranda warning, answers to police questions cannot be used as evidence against the person at his or her trial. Any answers to custodial interrogation, without Miranda, are subject to suppression. A Miranda violation does not result in dismissal of charges. If the government has enough evidence to proceed to trial, without the statement of the defendant, the prosecution can still move forward.

A Michigan Criminal Defense Attorney will help when constitutional issues need to be evaluated and assessed.

When you or someone you love is faced with a felony or misdemeanor charge and there is a possibility that the someone’s constitutional rights have been violated, it is extremely important that to have a criminal defense attorney that has experience and knowledge in constitutional law issues and a track record of winning arguments to suppress evidence. The attorneys at LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. have decades of legal experience in criminal and constitutional law matters. We are not afraid to stand up and fight for your rights! Please call us at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation or kindly complete a Request for Assistance Form and one of our attorneys will promptly contact you.