They didn’t read me my Miranda rights, do they have to dismiss my case?

by ParkmanLaw on February 28, 2013

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While the general public understands they have Miranda rights when dealing with law enforcement, as criminal attorneys, we see there is real confusion as to what those rights are and what they mean.  On a fairly regular basis, we get calls from potential clients claiming their case must be dismissed because the police never read them their rights.  It is as if most people believe all persons suspected of a crime must have their rights read to them.  This simply is not true.

The landmark case of Miranda v. Arizona does not require rights to be read to criminal defendants.  Instead, it only requires criminal suspects under custodial interrogation to be read their rights.  This means if someone is suspected of criminal activity, and they are taken into custody to be questioned about that crime, Miranda rights must be read to them before they are questioned.  You are considered “in custody” when you are not “free to leave.”

When you consider the rights covered under Miranda, that only makes sense.  They are as follows:

  1. You have the right to remain silent,
  2. Anything you say can be used against you in a court of law,
  3. You have the right to an attorney,
  4. If you can’t afford an attorney, one will be appointed to represent you.

The purpose of Miranda is to tell a criminal suspect that they do not have to talk to law enforcement and they can consult with an attorney.  Of course the first thing any criminal defense attorney is going to tell their client is “Don’t talk to the police.”

So what happens if law enforcement fail to read you your Miranda rights, but question you anyway.  Unfortunately, it generally does not mean your criminal charges will be dismissed, even if your rights were violated.  In such situations, the best criminal attorney will file a motion to suppress the statement given by their client.  This means, the criminal attorney will ask the judge to prevent the client’s statement from being introduced at trial.

If the statement is suppressed, that means the jury will never hear what was said, even if you gave a full confession.

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