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 Miranda and Your Right to Remain Silent

What is Miranda?

Miranda was a United States Supreme Court decision in which the Court mandated police officers to inform suspects of certain rights under the Fifth Amendment if the police intend on interrogating a suspect that is in custody.  Prior to the Miranda decision, it was common place for the police to trick, coerce and even physically beat confessions from people.  In Miranda, the Court stated that police questioning is an inherently coercive situation and a coerced confession is not reliable.  Therefore, in order to lessen the coercion and to make confessions more reliable, the Court ruled that the police must inform suspects of certain rights under the Fifth Amendment.  The following are your Miranda Rights:

  • You have the right to remain silent
  • Anything you say may be used against you in a court of law
  • You have the right consult an attorney before speaking to the police and to have an attorney present during questioning
  • If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you before any questioning

 

Do the police have to Mirandize you every time they question you?

Surprisingly to some, the answer to this question is “no.”  Miranda Rights will only apply, or be required, under two conditions.  First, a person must be in custody and second, the person must be subjected to an interrogation (collectively this is called a Custodial Interrogation).  If both of these conditions are not present, then the police do not have to Mirandize you.  For example, if a person is in custody but the police do not interrogate that person, there has been no Miranda violation.  Similarly, if there person is interrogated but not in custody, then Miranda would not apply.  The difficulty becomes in determining whether someone is in custody and/or if there was an interrogation.  Do not leave these legal arguments to just any attorney.  Peter Calo’s expertise in Miranda is unmatched.  Contact him today if you have been or are going to be questioned by the police.

What is Custody?

Custody is the first prong that must be determined for the applicability of Miranda.  A person is in custody, for the purposes of Miranda, if a reasonable person in that situation would feel as though they were under arrest or not free to leave within a short period of time.  A court will look at objective factors to determine if a person was in custody.  Such factors include, but are not limited to:

  • Where the person is detained (police station, on the street, at home, etc…)
  • How many police officers were present
  • Was force used to detain the person
  • What language the officers used (“you are under arrest” v.  “you are free to leave at any time“)
  • Was the person in handcuffs
  • Was the person in a locked area
  • Did the police display weapons when detaining the person
  • The length of the detention

 

Normally, not one factor is determinative.  It is a totality of the circumstances approach so a court will look at all the factors to determine if the person was in custody.  Therefore, based on the above factors, if a person is detained without using any force or weapons and the detention is only temporary, that person would probably not be considered in custody for Miranda purposes.  However, a detention such as that can quickly turn into a custodial situation.  If you have been subjected to a similar situation or detained and questioned by the police in any manner contact Attorney Peter Calo immediately for a free consultation!

What is an Interrogation?

The second prong for Miranda is interrogation.  If the police merely question someone, that may not amount to an interrogation.  The definition of interrogation was provided by the United States Supreme Court in a Rhode Island case.  An interrogation is defined as not only expressed questioning, but also any words or police action that are reasonably likely to elicit an incriminating response from the person. Questions such as routine booking questions are not considered interrogatories and therefore Miranda would not apply to such questions.  A question such as “where were you on the night of….” would be considered an interrogation type question because it is designed to get the person to incriminate himself.  Even a words that are not directed towards the suspect but within hearing distance of the suspect may be considered an interrogation.  Defining an interrogation can be very technical and should be left up to an expert like Attorney Peter Calo to attack.  If you have been or are going to be questioned by the police contact Attorney Peter Calo immediately to protect your rights!

The Rules of Miranda

Along with the two requirements of custody and interrogation, the police are bound by rules that they must follow whenever they are conducting a custodial interrogation.  The following are three of the most important rules that the police must adhere to when conducting a custodial interrogation:

  • Once a person asserts their Miranda Rights, either by telling the police they do not want to speak with them or that he or she wants an attorney, the police cannot question that person any further
  • A person must Voluntarily, Knowingly, and Intelligently waive their rights.  In other words, if a person agrees to speak with the police, the burden is on the police to prove that the person voluntarily, knowingly, and intelligently agreed to speak with them
  • Police cannot coerce or trick a person to give up her or her Miranda Rights

 

What happens when the Police violate your Miranda Right?

If the police do conduct a custodial interrogation without Mirandizing someone, whatever that person said to the police cannot be used at trial to convict the person.  Further, if evidence is discovered as a result of that confession, then that evidence should also be excluded from trial.  If this is the case, then there may be a good chance that the charges will be dismissed.  This is why you need the expertise of Attorney Peter Calo to protect your rights should you be subjected to a police investigation.  Contact him today for a free consultation!

What to do if the Police want to speak with You?

In general, it is best not to speak with the police if you are a suspect in a crime.  Before you do speak with the police, contact Attorney Peter Calo for a free consultation.