Anyone who has ever watched a movie or television show where an arrest is made is familiar with Miranda rights. The trouble is that what’s depicted in these fictional circumstances is not the whole story. Read on to learn more about Miranda rights, how they work and how an officer’s failure to Mirandize you may lead to the dismissal of the DUI charges against you.
Ernesto Miranda was arrested by police in Arizona in March 1963. Officers suspected him of kidnapping and rape. Two hours of interrogation at the police station resulted in Miranda’s written confession. However, when the case went to trial, Miranda’s attorney argued that he had not been advised of his rights, including the right to have an attorney present during the interrogation. Miranda was ultimately found guilty by a jury, and the Supreme Court of Arizona later affirmed the decision, stating that because he did not request an attorney, his rights were not violated.
The case eventually made it to the U.S. Supreme Court where the justices were called upon to decide whether or not the right of protection from self-incrimination that is contained in the Fifth Amendment applies to situations in which suspects are being interrogated by police. In a five to four decision, the court found that Fifth Amendment rights are always present regardless of the circumstances. This established the requirement for police to inform suspects of their rights before proceeding with a custodial interrogation.
Typically, people who are arrested by police are read their Miranda rights. These rights include the right to remain silent, the right to have an attorney, the right to have an attorney appointed when the defendant cannot afford one and the right to have questioning cease until an attorney arrives. The defendant also may waive these rights. Critically, the defendant further needs to be aware that anything they say while in police custody may be used against them.
That seems relatively straightforward. However, the reality of the situation is a bit more complicated. Many people who are arrested on suspicion of drunk driving expect to have their rights read to them immediately. If this doesn’t occur, then they believe that the charges against them will automatically be dismissed. This may be the case, but the situation isn’t necessarily as simple as that.
Law enforcement is required to read the Miranda rights to any person who is in police custody before the interrogation begins. The interrogation does not have to happen at the police station. It could happen at the suspect’s home, in a restaurant or on the street. The point is, if the suspect is not free to leave, then their Miranda rights must be read.
Police officers will sometimes delay an arrest while they are questioning a suspect. They may do this to avoid having to read the person their rights. The suspect believes they are obligated to answer police questions, so they start talking, perhaps not realizing that they may be talking themselves into an arrest. That’s because anything they say can be used against them, even if the Miranda rights have not been read to them. The officer is then able to arrest the suspect on the basis of their statements.
The important thing to remember is that you aren’t obligated to answer police questions whether you have been read the Miranda rights or not. It’s best to politely decline to answer any questions, stating that you would like to have an attorney present before being interrogated. You are perfectly within your rights to do so.
What many people fail to understand when it comes to the Miranda rights is that they do not have to be read to you at the time of your arrest. The police are not necessarily acting inappropriately if they arrest you without reminding you of your rights. That’s because two conditions must exist before the police are required to read the Miranda rights. First, you must be in police custody. Second, the officer must be starting an interrogation. In other words, you may be arrested, but not questioned until a later time. The police must remind you of your Miranda rights at the time of the questioning but may not do so at the moment of your arrest.
The upshot is that the question of Miranda rights can be a complicated one. Only an experienced DUI defense attorney is fully qualified to investigate whether or not you were adequately informed of your rights. This is because it is not always clear whether or not a suspect is, in fact, being subjected to a “custodial interrogation.” Your attorney may be able to successfully argue that you were being interrogated in custody even when the district attorney says otherwise. In this case, it’s possible that your arrest or certain statements that you made could be put aside.
It is important to note that just because a proper Miranda warning was not issued, it does not necessarily follow that a case will be completely dismissed. This may happen in rare instances, but it is by no means a foregone conclusion. For instance, assume that the police force you to confess to drunk driving after your arrest. If they did not provide the Miranda warning or did not explain it correctly, then your DUI lawyer can argue that you did not waive the right to remain silent. This may make it possible to suppress your confession.
If your confession is the main evidence against you, then your case may be dismissed. However, if the prosecutor also is relying on a breath test and the results of sobriety testing, then the case against you may proceed. The good news is that these results also may be called into question by an experienced DUI attorney.
The consequences for a DUI conviction can be life altering. You may lose your driving privileges, have to pay fines or spend time in jail, depending upon the circumstances. Don’t leave the outcome to chance. Work with a determined lawyer instead.