Many people mistakenly believe that if they are not read their Miranda rights while being arrested, they can avoid punishment. Criminal defense attorneys know that this is not totally true. In reality, if the police fail to read a suspect their rights, the prosecution can't use anything the suspect says as evidence during a trial.
What are Miranda Rights?
Originating from the U.S. Supreme Court's Miranda v. Arizona decision, the Miranda warning requires officers to make the suspect aware of certain facts before interrogation. Those facts include:
- You have the right to remain silent
- Whatever you do say can be used against you in a court of law
- You have the right to have an attorney present during police questioning
- If you don't have the resources to hire a lawyer, the court will appoint one for you
When is the Miranda Warning Required?
If you want to ask questions and use the answers in a trial, the police must read the Miranda rights whenever they take a suspect into custody, no matter where they are. If the person is not in custody, no Miranda warning is required.
In the U.S. in 2012, law enforcement made an estimated 12,196,959 arrests; however, oftentimes, officers avoid arresting suspects - making it clear that they are free to leave at any time - in order to avoid reading the Miranda rights. That is because as long as the person is not officially under arrest and the rights have not been read, anything the suspect says can be used against them later on.
What happens if the officer does not read a suspect their rights?
As mentioned above, failure to provide the Miranda warning does not automatically get the suspect off the hook. Rather, it means that any incriminating statements made by the suspect are inadmissible. It also means that any evidence obtained by the police as a result of those statements is also inadmissible. This oversight may, in fact, lead to a mistrial or an acquittal, but not always.
If you have any additional questions about Miranda rights or how to handle police questioning, reach out to a criminal defense attorney. You may also feel free to post in the comments section below.