When the police don’t read Miranda Rights.

A frequent question I get when I first meet with clients is whether the case could be “thrown out” if the police officer did not read the “Miranda Rights.”

While the Miranda rights are a critical part of the Criminal process, the failure to read the Miranda rights does not, in and of itself cause the case to be “thrown out.”

Miranda rights have been required since the United States Supreme Court decided a case called Miranda v Arizona in 1966. In that case the Court determined that the police must inform a person that is in custody of certain basic rights prior to being interrogated. If they are not, the statement generally cannot be used against them. The Court said that not informing an accused criminal of certain rights would violated their right to an Attorney.  Understand, like most things when dealing with the law, there a couple of very critical exceptions which I will save for another article.

Most police departments read directly from a pre-printed Miranda card.  The card can then be introduced as evidence at later court dates to indicate that the officer properly read the accused criminal the correct warnings.

Proper Miranda cards include the following:

1) You have the right to remain silent

2) Anything you say will be used against you in a court of law

3) You have the right to an attorney

4) You have the right to an attorney to be present during questioning

5) If you cannot afford an attorney one will be provided for you

The decision in Miranda v. Arizona, shows the great importance of criminal defense lawyers. The United States Supreme Court said very clearly that the accused need lawyers right away.

What happens if the police don’t read Miranda rights? Best case for the criminal defendant is that any statement made by the Defendant after the Miranda warnings were required cannot be used in Court.  But that does not mean that the State cannot bring forth any other evidence it has obtained to prosecute the case.  The Prosecutor is still able to use statements from other witnesses, the testimony of any observations the officer made and in the situation where the accused did not make a statement to police at anytime the absence of a Miranda warning has little affect on the case.