What happens if the police make an arrest and fail to “read you your rights”?
Many people believe that if the police do not read them their Miranda rights, then the arrest and charges will not stick and that they will get off or otherwise prevail. Unfortunately, despite the dramatization by Hollywood to the contrary, this is usually not the case.
Do the Police Have to Read You Your Rights?
The simple answer to this question is no, the police are not required to read you your rights in every situation.
However, if they do not and then detain or arrest you for questioning, any statements you make under those circumstances cannot be used against you. Likewise, any evidence obtained as a result of your statements (e.g. a statement that “the gun used in the murder is under the passenger seat” which leads to the discovery of the murder weapon – gun) will generally not be admissible as evidence against you at trial.
What are my rights?
As relates to Miranda warnings, your right is a constitutional right against self incrimination, which derives from the 5th Amendment. The Miranda (a US Supreme Court case) interpretation of the 5th Amendment right against self incrimination requires that before the police arrest or detain a criminal suspect and proceed with any questioning, the suspect must be informed in specific terms (a la Hollywood movies) of his/her right to not speak and to have a lawyer present for any questioning. Thus, if you are detained or arrested and then make statements or answer questions that are being used to incriminate you, without being read your rights, only in these limited circumstances will the police failure to “read you your rights” possibly help your case.
A Failure to Read Miranda Warnings Will Not Necessarily Be a Defense
Because the Miranda warnings are solely meant to inform a criminal suspect of their rights against self incrimination, if Miranda warnings are not given, then any evidence obtained as a result of this failure to warn will be inadmissible. However, in many cases, criminal charges are based upon evidence other than a suspect’s own statements during questioning, after an arrest or detention. Typically, by the time an arrest is made, there is already mounting evidence against the suspect to independently sustain and possibly prove the charges brought. Thus, if questioning occurs after an arrest and without proper Miranda warnings, it is still possible that there is sufficient evidence to prosecute the crime, even without any self-incriminating statements by the defendant. In many cases, particularly where an officer witnesses criminal conduct, there is no need for and accordingly no questioning following a detention or arrest. In such a case, there is no statement and thus no self incrimination and thus a failure to provide Miranda warnings has absolutely no bearing on the charges or possible outcome.
If you have questions about an arrest and criminal charges that you are facing, please do not hesitate to contact us to learn more about your rights and defenses available to you, particular to the circumstances of your case. Visit us at WV Criminal Lawyers and contact us to set up a free consultation to discuss your case.