When do the police give Miranda rights?
The legal requirement for Miranda warnings is widely misunderstood. Most people do not know that there is no legal requirement for an arresting officer to read a person his rights. Here is what you need to know.
Virtually every person who calls LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. regarding a misdemeanor or felony offense, believes that if they were not “read their rights,” then the charges have to be dismissed. Unfortunately, this is a misunderstanding of the law that is perpetuated by television shows and movies. The Miranda myth created in the entertainment industry does not accurately reflect the state of the law in the United States or Michigan. It is essential to know your Miranda Rights.
Under the Miranda Law, if the police fail to read an in-custody suspect his rights, the prosecutor can’t use that person’s answers to police questioning (AKA interrogation) as evidence against the suspect at trial.
What Are Miranda Rights?
Popularly known as the Miranda warning (ordered by the U.S. Supreme Court in Miranda v. Arizona), a defendant’s rights consist of the familiar litany invoked by TV police immediately upon arresting a suspect:
- 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.
When the Miranda Warning Is Required
If a person is in custody, the police must read them their Miranda rights if they want to question the suspect if they’re going 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 due to physical or mental constraints.
If a person is not in police custody, however, no Miranda warning is required, and anything the person says can be used at trial, including answers to police questions.
Responding to Questions Before an Arrest
A police officer generally cannot arrest a person solely for failure to respond to questions. The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees the “right of silence.” 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.
Questioning After the Arrest
Never speak to the police or answer questions after an arrest. Period.
Suspects all too frequently unwittingly reveal information that is used as evidence of their guilt. People often try to justify their cooperation with police questioning by saying they had done nothing wrong or that they thought it would look suspicious if they remained silent. More than half of the criminal cases charged in Michigan would disappear if people kept their mouths shut.
We all know that people often hear what they want to hear. Police are no different and frequently misinterpret (or twist) an innocent statement into something inculpatory. Even when someone does not admit guilt, police often look more for minor inconsistencies or minor errors in facts which are later used to show that a person was “evasive” or “dishonest.” Worse yet, when everything else fails, police will say that a person was nervous when answering questions and appeared to be dishonest or deceptive. The bottom line is that talking with the police, ALWAYS works out very badly for the suspect.
Consequences of Failure to Provide Miranda Warning
Without a Miranda warning, a person’s answers to custodial interrogation are inadmissible in court. Any answers to custodial interrogation, without Miranda, are subject to suppression. In addition, under the “fruit of the poisonous tree” doctrine, if the police find evidence as a result of an interrogation that violates the Miranda rule, that evidence may also be inadmissible at trial.
Criminal Defense Lawyers – Constitutional Attorneys
If you have been accused by law enforcement of committing a felony or misdemeanor offense, if there may be a warrant for your arrest, or you have charges in court, please call LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. We will take the time to talk with you, answer your questions, and address each of your concerns. We will work with you to develop a winning strategy.
Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation, or complete a Request for Assistance Form and we will contact you promptly.