Ask any criminal defense attorney and they will tell you that one of the most common questions they get asked is “if the cops didn’t read me my rights, my case will be thrown out, right?”
I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been asked this; and no matter how many times I answer this question, every client seems surprised when I tell them, “not necessarily.”
Many clients believe that they can beat their case because the cop did not read them their Miranda rights. Despite what Hollywood would have many people believe, this is a myth. In fact, in my experience this is one of the most pervasive myths in the criminal justice system. The reality is that in real life, a cop doesn’t routinely “read you your rights” when he arrests you. Why? Because it is neither required nor necessary in most cases.
The truth is, the only time an officer must read a person his or her Miranda rights is when: (1) the person has been placed under arrest, AND (2) the officer is about to question the person about a crime. In some cases, this analysis is easy. Imagine the stereotypical scene that we’ve all seen in movies countless times before: a person gets arrested, the person is transported to a police station, and he is placed into an interrogation room. In this instance, it is easy to see that the person has been arrested and is being questioned about a crime.
But what about when a citizen’s police encounter doesn’t follow the stereotypical scene. What if the encounter looks more like a typical DUI arrest? Imagine this: a cop asks a driver to perform field sobriety tests, and then tells her that she is under arrest – locks on the handcuffs – and sends her to the county jail for booking without the first mention of Miranda. Is her DUI arrest invalid? Probably not. In this instance, the driver is under arrest, but the cop never asked her any questions about a crime.
Although many Miranda issues fit neatly into this two step analysis – (1) under arrest and (2) being questioned – there are still other instances where the Miranda issue is not as clear. For example, during a traffic stop, a police officer may ask you questions, but a traffic stop is not deemed “custody” or “arrest” for the purposes of Miranda. So even though you are not free to leave and are being questioned, there is no requirement for Miranda. Likewise, there are times when being questioned in a police care is considered custodial interrogation requiring Miranda, and other times being questioned while sitting in a police car does not require Miranda. In short, it all depends on the specific facts in each unique situation. The best way to determine if Miranda applies to your arrest is to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney.
If you have been arrested and think that your rights might have been violated, call The Wright Law Group today. The lawyers at The Wright Law Group can evaluate your arrest and determine if your rights were violated; and even in cases where Miranda was not required, the attorneys at The Wright Law Group have decades of criminal defense experience. Let us help you. Call us today at (702) 405-0001. Our consultations are always free and confidential.