Most Americans are familiar with what Miranda warnings are and may likely be able to recite the first few words of the common phrase: “You have the right to remain silent . . . .” However, many people don't completely understand the reason behind Miranda warnings or when they must be used (and when they don't need to be used).
Miranda warnings originated in the U.S. Supreme Court after an important case ruling. The case was Miranda v. Arizona and it provided us with the following rights:
- You have the right to remain silent;
- Anything you say can be used against you in a court of law;
- You have the right to consult with a lawyer and have that lawyer present during the interrogation;
- If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be appointed to represent you;
- You can invoke your right to be silent before or during an interrogation, and if you do so, the interrogation must stop.
- You can invoke your right to have an attorney present, and until your attorney is present, the interrogation must stop.
But, as I stated earlier, Miranda warnings do not apply in every situation. In fact, there are two conditions that must be met before an officer is required to issue a Miranda warning. First, the suspect must be in police custody. Second, the suspect is under interrogation.
If these two conditions are not met, there is no need to be given a Miranda warning. If a Miranda warning is not necessary, anything you say to the police can be used against you. So, what is “police custody” and what is “interrogation?” Here's what you need to know:
- Police Custody: Generally, this is anytime the police deprive you of your freedom of action in a significant way. Basically, it means being arrested.
- Police Interrogation: Once officers have begun asking questions that could implicate your involvement in a crime, an interrogation has started. Merely asking for your identification is not considered interrogation.
An interesting side note about interrogations: the Supreme Court ruled in 2010 that officers can initiate a second interrogation of a suspect who had previously invoked his Miranda right to remain silent once two weeks had passed since the date of the original interrogation. In this case, the police did not have to give the suspect here another Miranda warning. The Court held that the original Miranda warning was still in effect.
If the situation calls for a Miranda warning to be issued, but the officers fail to do so, there are consequences. This is to say that nothing said by the suspect in response to a custodial interrogation can be used against him. Also, any evidence that is obtained from that improper interrogation is also inadmissible.
If you have been charged with a DUI and have questions about your rights, it is best to consult with an experienced DUI defense attorney in your area. I have practiced DUI defense for over 20 years in the Fresno area and I can help you with your case.