As a criminal defense attorney, I do not know how many times I have heard my clients tell me, “the officer did not read me my rights!” The rights in question are the warnings set out in Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 467-73 (1966). These rights were created to safeguard a person’s constitutional right against self-incrimination. You know the rights I’m talking about, they are played over and over on pretty much every police and legal show on TV:
“You have the right to remain silent. If you give up your right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be used against you. You have the right to speak with an attorney, and to have an attorney present prior to and during any questioning. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you? Do you wish to waive your rights and speak with me?”
These are powerful rights, but most people do not know when these rights must be read to them. When a police officer is conducting an investigation, they do NOT have to read you the Miranda warning before they speak with you nor asking you any questions concerning the alleged crime. Rather, according to the Supreme Court of the United States, this Miranda warning must be read BEFORE a custodial interrogation. A custodial interrogation is defined by another case, but in layman’s terms, the definition of a custodial interrogation is if the person being questioned believe they can terminate the interview and walk away? In other words, have you been detained? For example, a police officer walks up to you and begins asking you questions. Do you have to answer? Of course not, but if you do, you are doing so freely and voluntarily. Now, if you tell the officer that you do not wish to speak with him or her and attempt to walk away, does the officer stop you? If the officer does not let you leave, you have been detained and that means they must read you the Miranda warning before asking you any questions about the alleged crime. If they fail to give you this warning, any testimony can be suppressed by a skilled attorney, like the ones here at Dodson Legal Group. Our best advice is to never speak with an officer without an attorney.
Finally, keep in mind that your Miranda rights only protect against things you say, not things you do. In other words, if you are stopped for a DWI and the officer fails to give you the Miranda warning after he or she has arrested you but begins to ask you incriminating questions, like how many beers did you drink, we can get those answers tossed. However, any video recording showing how you were driving or your inability to keep your balance has nothing to do with Miranda and would not be suppressed. If you want to be safe, always speak with one of the attorneys at Dodson Legal Group to protect yourself and your future. Call Dodson Legal Group today at 844-4Dodson.