Don’t The Police Have To Read Me My Rights?

MPMM Law - Wednesday, June 22, 2016

When we watch television shows, we routinely see police officers immediately advising suspects that they are under arrest; that they have the right to remain silent; that anything they say can and will be used against them in a court of law; and that they have the right an attorney. This is what is commonly known as “Miranda” warnings or “Miranda” rights, emanating from the landmark United States Supreme Court case, Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966).

Yet, one of the first things many clients advise is that “the police never read me my rights.”

Miranda warnings are only required during “custodial interrogation.” What that means, generally speaking, is that the police are only required to issue the Miranda warnings if a suspect is: [a] in custody; and [b] being questioned. So, if the police ask a suspect to voluntarily come to the police station to speak with them about an investigation, Miranda will not be required if the suspect is not in “custody” yet answers questions or provides a statement. Similarly, if someone is arrested and the police do not question him/her while in custody, there is absolutely no obligation to read that person his/her Miranda rights.

The Miranda decision has sparked fifty years of litigation over police tactics in interrogating suspects including:

  • When is a suspect in “custody?”
  • Do all questions asked of an arrestee constitute “interrogation?”
  • What happens if the police fail to advise an incarcerated suspect of his or her rights and the suspect then makes a statement?
  • Are the police allowed to lie to a suspect who is in custody in order to obtain a confession?

The answers to these questions may surprise you.

A statement made to the police could have a detrimental effect on one’s liberty. The best way to protect yourself, or a loved one, is to speak to an attorney before speaking to the police. Understand what your rights really are. They might bear no resemblance to what you see on television.