“He didn’t read me my rights!”

Miranda v. Arizona was the Supreme Court case that brought us all of those warnings and rights we hear on Law & Order. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided to you. We’ve heard them on TV thousands of times. Those warnings are so ingrained in our society that many people expect to be read their rights when arrested. And when they are not read their rights, people believe it is an infringement on their rights and an automatic dismissal of their case.

Not exactly.

Miranda v. Arizona: Where it All Started

Ernesto Miranda was arrested for the kidnapping and rape of an eighteen-year-old woman in 1963. After an hours long interrogation, Miranda confessed to the crime. He was never told of his right to have an attorney nor of his right to remain silent. At his trial, his confession was admitted over the objection of defense counsel saying that the confession was involuntary. The case was ultimately appealed to the United States Supreme Court.

The U.S. Supreme Court decided that because of the coercive nature of custodial interrogations by police, no confession could be admissible unless a suspect has been made aware of his rights and the suspect waived his rights. If a suspect decides to exercise his right to remain silent, the interrogation must stop. If a suspect decides to exercise his right to an attorney, the interrogation must stop until her attorney is present.

When Miranda Warnings Are Required

An officer is required to read you your rights when you are under a custodial interrogation. What does that mean? First, you must be formally arrested OR your movements must be restrained to a degree associated with formal arrest. Second, you must be interrogated. Interrogation can mean questioning from a police officer or it can mean statements or actions by the police officer that the officer knows are likely to produce an incriminating statement.

This inquiry into whether a defendant is under custodial interrogation is very fact specific. Were you handcuffed? Were you not allowed to leave? Were you asked questions about the alleged crime? Did you make incriminating statements before or after being arrested? How many officers were around? Who initiated the discussion? Did the officer use any physical restraints or force? All of these questions and many more are pertinent to determining whether a defendant was under custodial interrogation and protected by their 5th and 6th Amendment.

Contact Kurtz and Blum for a Thorough Investigation of Your Case

What you have read here is only a brief primer of your right against self-incrimination and right to an attorney. The case law surrounding this issue is vast and complicated. With Kurtz and Blum on your side, you can rest assured that you have knowledgeable and experienced attorneys fighting for you.