Miranda Rights: Part Two
You have the right to remain silent, but when?
With the recent anniversary of Miranda v. Arizona (the case that gave us our “Miranda rights”) I believe it’s a great time to examine what these rights really mean. In part one of this series, I gave a general overview of the Miranda and the legal basis under the Constitution. Now in part two, I’ll discuss when your Miranda rights become applicable.
Reading of Miranda Rights
Many of my clients come into their first interview thinking that they have a surefire defense for their case. After talking with me about their arrest, they’ll usually point out that the police officer never read them their Miranda rights, so the arrest must be illegal. This is a common misconception. An arrest is perfectly legal, even if the police officer never reads you your Miranda warnings. That’s because these warnings don’t protect you from an unlawful arrest, they protect you from statements you make to the police while in custody.
Custody And Interrogation Required
Your Miranda rights only come into play where there is both custody and interrogation. Both of these requirements must be present if you are going to argue that your Miranda rights have been violated. Custody typically means that you do not feel as though you have the freedom to leave. If a reasonable person would believe they are free to leave, then that is not a custodial situation. For example, if you are stopped by the police and they simply ask you questions, Miranda warnings are not applicable. This situation is not a custodial situation. You may been stopped by the police, but you are still free to leave, so Miranda and the need for warnings is not triggered.
Even if the police place you under arrest (thereby satisfying the custody requirement) you still need to show interrogation.
In most of the situations my clients face, they are arrested and transported to the police station without the police asking them a single question. Thus, even though they are in custody (because they’ve been arrested), the police officer still doesn’t need to read them their Miranda rights because there was never an interrogation.
The Cure For Custodial Statements
When I analyze a case to see if there has been a violation of Miranda, I look to see what my client said and what position they were in when they made these statements. There’s only a Miranda violation where the statements were made while the person was in custody and being interrogated. The cure for a Miranda violation is not necessarily a complete dismissal of the case. The legal solution is to deem the statements made “inadmissible.” Many times without these statements, the prosecutor won’t have enough of a case to continue to pursue the charges.
This is Part Two of my series on Miranda, which focuses on the custody and interrogation requirements that trigger Miranda warnings. For a discussion of the legal basis for Miranda warnings, see Part One. For a discussion on how to assert your Miranda rights, see Part Three. To learn more about Miranda rights in Georgia, see Part Four.