If you have watched a police procedural drama such as CSI and Chicago PD, you noticed a familiar speech given by arresting law enforcement personnel. It goes something like this: “You have the right to remain silent. If you give up the right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you desire an attorney and cannot afford one, an attorney will be obtained for you before police questioning.”
What you heard is called the reading of a suspect’s Miranda Rights, which also is referred to in some legal circles as a Miranda Warning.
Overview of Miranda Rights
The 5th Amendment and the 6th Amendment to the United States Constitution provide the legal foundation for Miranda Rights. However, it took a Supreme Court ruling in 1966 to establish the existence of Miranda Rights. In Miranda v. Arizona, the Supreme Court ruled a defendant in a criminal case cannot be questioned by any law enforcement agency until the defendant is explained his or her rights granted by the United States Constitution.
Here are the components of your Miranda Rights:
- You have the right to remain silent
- Anything you say can be used against you in a court of law
- You have the right to have an attorney present
- If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to you
What Happens If Law Enforcement Did Not Read Your Miranda Rights?
The United States Supreme Court decision in 1966 that established Miranda Rights was made to make sure suspects in criminal cases understood their Constitutional rights. Law enforcement personnel can ask routine questions such as your name and date of birth, without first having to read your Miranda Rights. However, because of haste or a complete disregard for the United States Constitution, a law enforcement officer might fail to read your Miranda Rights.
Your Miranda Rights are only pertinent when you are in police custody and under interrogation. If you were interrogated while in police custody and the arresting officer did not read your Miranda Rights, the prosecutors of your criminal case most likely will not be able to use your statements during a trial.
Remember that if you voluntarily offer information while not in police custody, the statements are fair game for the prosecution to use during a criminal trial. The 5th Amendment prevents self-incrimination caused by police questioning and the 14th Amendment prohibits the use of force or coercion by law enforcement personnel. Neither Amendment protects a defendant that voluntarily provides information about a criminal case.
State Interpretations of Miranda Warnings.
Although virtually every right granted to defendants comes from the United States Constitution, state law can expand on the rights enjoyed by defendants, especially when it comes to involuntary confessions.
Here are some legal factors a state like Texas might cover when it comes to involuntary confessions:
- Whether law enforcement read a suspect his or her Miranda Rights
- Location of interrogation
- The time it took for the interrogation
- Did law enforcement honor the suspect’s request to see an attorney?
- Did law enforcement honor the right to remain silent?
- Suspect’s age
- Suspect’s physical health and/or emotional state
- Which party started the conversation
For example, a male suspect 16 years old is brought into a police station for questioning about a crime. The youth does not have any prior experience interacting with the police in a formal questioning environment. Because of the unawareness of his or her Miranda Rights, the suspect might voluntarily offer information that he or she does not have a legal obligation to offer.
What Defines Coercion?
A law enforcement officer might have read your Miranda Rights, but the department responsible for your arrest might have also crossed the legal line by coercing a confession out of you. Coercing a confession is considered an involuntary act on your part, which means your case might be eligible for dismissal in a court of law.
Let’s look at a few examples of law enforcement coercion
- Deprivation of food and water
- Not allowed to use a bathroom
- Verbal threats
- Kicking or striking
- Promises of lighter punishment for alleged crime(s) committed
- Using a gun to force a conversation
Contact Capetillo Law Firm
If you were brought into police custody and interrogated, without first having your Miranda Rights read, you should immediately get in touch with Texas licensed criminal defense lawyer Adam Capetillo. There are several ways to convince a jury to exonerate you of all criminal charges, with a violation of your Miranda Rights leading the list. Adam Capetillo will conduct a thorough review of your case, including analyzing the arresting officer’s communication log and tape-recorded arrest file to determine whether your Miranda Rights were violated.