The Police Didn’t Read My Miranda Rights, Can I Get My Case Dismissed?
Most likely not. Criminal attorneys will tell you that this is probably one of the most often asked questions by clients. Many people believe that if an officer fails to read Miranda Rights the state has to drop the case. As with most things in law, the answer is much more complex and cases are rarely dropped when an officer fails to read Miranda Warnings.
First, What Are Miranda Rights?
Under the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, no person “shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.” To protect your constitutional rights, Miranda Rights were articulated in a U.S. Supreme Court case which directs police to inform a person of their right against self-incrimination before custodial interrogation. The person must be told:
You have 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 cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you
When Are Police Required to Read Miranda Rights?
Prior to custodial interrogation. You are in custody when your movement has been restrained by the officer. In other words, when you are no longer free to leave and go about your business. During a traffic stop, you might not feel like you aren’t free to leave. But courts have determined that a regular traffic stop isn’t considered custodial because at the end you’ll most likely be allowed to go about your business. The stop becomes custodial only when the officer decides to arrest you for a crime they suspect you of committing. Interrogation means questioning by the officer about the crime for which you have been taken into custody. So, during a traffic stop the police do not have to read Miranda Rights.
Can I Remain Silent During a Traffic Stop (Before the Police Arrest Me)?
For the most part, yes.
If an officer stops you and starts asking questions, you are required to identify yourself and provide the officer any necessary documents they may require (license, insurance, etc.). Beyond that, you don’t have to say anything. For example, during the stop the officer asks if you had been drinking. You could politely say, “Officer, I understand you are doing your job, but I don’t want to discuss what I have been doing without my lawyer present.” They may ask, where are you coming from? You could say, “Officer, I don’t wish to discuss that without a lawyer present.” But be polite about it.
So, What Happens if Police Don’t Read My Miranda Rights?
Any statements you make in response to police questioning, once you are in custody, cannot be used against you in court. For example, if an officer arrests you for a DUI, fails to read Miranda Warnings, places you in handcuffs in the back of his car and then asks how much you had to drink. Any answer you give cannot be used against you in court. On the other hand, same scenario except the officer doesn’t ask any questions, but you yell out, “I only had 5 drinks, I’m not drunk.” That statement will most likely be allowed in court because it wasn’t under interrogation by the officer.
There is much more to all of this. For example, did the officer create an environment to try to circumvent Miranda Warnings by chatting you up without “interrogating” you about the case, in an effort to get you to volunteer information? Were your rights violated in this case? That is why you need a good Criminal Justice Attorney.
If You Feel Your Miranda Rights Were Violated, Consult a Criminal Justice Attorney in West Palm Beach.
Call 561-847-4726 for a free consultation on your criminal or DUI case. We will examine your situation and help you determine if your rights were violated.