Miranda Rights: “The Police Officer never read me my rights!”


You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can be used against you. You have the right to an attorney. If you can’t afford an attorney one will be appointed.

Television and movies have convinced the American public that the law requires police officers to advise you of your Miranda rights after placing you under arrest. Typically, the scenario on the cop shows is that chase some guy yelling stop people, tackle him to the ground, put him in handcuffs and as they walk him to the police cruiser and start stuffing him into the back seat they sarcastically bark out the magic words: “you have the right to remain silent…”

I have been a criminal defense lawyer in this state for over 20 years and I don’t know if I ever had a case that went down like that. I am sure some cops somewhere do it like that, probably because they learned it from TV too!

Your constitutional right to remain silent and not incriminate yourself is only triggered once the police put you into custody. So, it is true that your rights come into play just after the handcuffs are put on. However, what most police officers do is ask you lost of questions BEFORE they arrest you.

So, here is a much more likely scenario: A police officer suspects you have done something illegal. The officer walks up and says “Hey, would you mind answering a few questions about what’s going on here?” You realize that taking off in a full sprint at this moment is probably going to make things worse so you turn and say “Sure.” The officer then asks a bunch of questions and you answer them…probably admitting along the way to some illegal activity. You answer all these questions because you think if you just explain yourself the officer might let you go. Or, the officer has told you some version of “If you cooperate and answer my questions this will go a lot easier for you”.

When you answer these questions, before arrest, the officer has no obligation to tell you of your right to remain silent. All your statements can be used against you in court. And they will be! So, as I always advise: it is usually best to politely and respectfully decline to answer any questions before or after arrest.

After you have placed under arrest if you start blurting things out those statements can be used against you. If you ask the officer questions and start a conversation those statements can be used against you.

Only if police officers want to interrogate you after placing you under arrest must they advise you of your Miranda rights. Interrogation is defined as questions likely to elicit an incriminating response.

If you have been arrested and you think your Miranda right s were violated call me. Getting your statements suppressed is a great way to take the state’s strongest evidence out of the case.

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