You can’t really be exposed to much in the way of cinema or television without being at least casually aware that the authorities routinely give criminal suspects their “Miranda Warning.” This informs them about their rights, including the right to legal representation and their right to remain silent to avoid self-incrimination.
Unfortunately, television and movies exaggerate the reality of things, and this leaves people confused about the mechanics of a Miranda Warning. Many believe that an officer’s failure to “read them their rights” (or a small mistake while doing so) will lead to a total dismissal of their charges.
The police only have to remind you of your rights in specific situations
The police may very well read you your rights when you’re arrested on suspicion of some crime – but they may not. It all depends on the situation. There are two triggering criteria that need to be in place before the Miranda Warning must be issued:
- You must be in police custody (meaning that you’re under arrest)
- You must be under interrogation (meaning that the police are actively asking you questions about potential crimes)
Absent either of those conditions, the police are under no obligation to remind you of anything. This means, for example, that if you’re stopped on suspicion of drunk driving, an arresting officer can:
- Ask you any question they want, including probing questions that could cause you to incriminate yourself (if you’re unwary enough to answer them) right up until the point where you’re arrested.
- Arrest you and put you in the back of the police car and let you talk. This is often a tactic used by the police since people under arrest often get nervous and say things they probably shouldn’t.
It’s also important to note that evidence in your case won’t be thrown out just because an officer dropped a word or mispronounced something when they finally did read you the Miranda Warning, so long as the basic points were clearly communicated.
When you’re in trouble with the law, don’t take your legal guidance from friends, relatives or neighbors. It’s wisest to seek experienced assistance that can help you determine the best possible options for your case.