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Miranda Rights: The Most Misunderstood Item In Law

Miranda Rights: The Most Misunderstood Item In Law


I often have people tell me: "they have to throw out my case!"

When I ask why, the answer is often similar: "the officers didn't read me my rights."

Contrary to popular believe, police officers do not have to automatically read you your Miranda rights when they talk to you.

Miranda only kicks in when police are conducting a custodial interrogation.

Even then, some questions are still permissible without Miranda warnings. For example, police officers can get biographical and/or identification questions, such as your name, dates of birth, social security numbers, etc..

They can also ask questions about things that might be inevitable discovery, such as if you have any needles or things they could find on you while performing a Terry pat-down or during the booking process.

However, when it comes to questions about the crime itself, if the person is in custody, there is generally a need to advise someone of their constitutional rights. These rights include: (1) the right to remain silent; (2) that anything you say can and will be used against you; (3) you have a right to talk to a lawyer, and that one will be appointed to represent you if you cannot afford one; and that (4) you can stop questioning at any time and not answer questions or make statements.

As a general rule, officers like to make sure that the person understands their rights before proceeding with questions.

However, in the vast majority of interactions with the public, police officers do not need to advise you of your Miranda rights. Why? You have the right to walk away or not answer their questions.

For example, if officers are conducting an undercover sting, they do not need to advise the people they are buying or selling drugs to that they are police officers. Contrary to popular opinion, this is not automatically "entrapment."

Similarly, if officers are conducting a neighborhood canvas around a crime scene, they do not need to advise everyone they talk to of their Miranda warnings -- even if one of the people they talk to happens to be a known (or unknown) suspect.

As a general rule, questions of if a statement violates Miranda are fact specific applications of complicated case law. In some of these cases, the statements can be the difference between a conviction or acquittal -- or even dismissal -- of serious charges.

If you or a loved one is facing questions about your case and wish to discuss your case with attorneys with proven results, you can contact VanHo Law at 330-653-8511 -- or you can contact us here.


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