You’re facing some serious criminal charges, and you realized – a bit too late – that you probably should have done more listening and less talking to the police before you were arrested.
However, the police didn’t read your Miranda rights – the ones that remind you about your right to remain silent (among other things) until well after you were in handcuffs and sitting in an interrogation room. Does this mean that your charges will get thrown out?
Don’t count on it. While anything is possible, the Miranda warning is only required under a limited set of circumstances.
When do the police have to notify you of your rights?
The Miranda warning is only required when two things are true:
- You are in the custody of the authorities. This means that you are not free to leave whenever you choose. If you aren’t in handcuffs, don’t assume that you aren’t free to leave: Ask if you’re being detained.
- You are about to be interrogated. The police can listen to whatever you say, whenever you say it, but they cannot start asking you questions related to a criminal investigation until they give you a Miranda warning.
The nuances of these rules have confused a lot of people over the years. Many assume that nothing they say to the police before a Miranda warning can be used against them in court – and that simply isn’t true.
So, what do you do now? Well, the wisest move is to immediately start to exercise your right to remain silent and discuss your case only with your defense team from this point forward. Your case may not be dismissed over the lack of a Miranda warning, but you may have a myriad of other potential defenses at hand.