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Do police really need to read you the Miranda rights?

On behalf of Starbranch Law on Thursday, October 18, 2018.

Getting arrested and facing criminal charges is a frightening experience. The desire to walk away without a conviction is strong, and people often start immediately doing mental gymnastics in an attempt to mitigate the potential damages from their brush with the law.

Planning a defense strategy and avoiding incriminating yourself are wise choices. However, beware of trying to build a defense around an inaccurate assumption.

All too often, these early strategizing sessions involve falsehoods or half-truths that the accused party has learned from friends or through television and movies. Focusing on whether an officer read you your Miranda rights is an example of a potentially inappropriate approach to developing a defense strategy.

Those accused of a crime need to understand when an officer must read them their Miranda rights and whether it will impact their defense.

An officer does not have to read you your rights before arresting you

The common misconception about Miranda rights is that they must be read at the time that the officer officially detains or arrests you. People see on television shows and in movies that police officers rattle off the Miranda rights while placing someone in handcuffs.

That leads them to assume they should receive the same treatment and that reading Miranda rights is a necessary part of the initial arrest process. In reality, an officer does not need to read your Miranda rights just because they are placing you under arrest.

A failure to read Miranda rights at the time of your arrest on its own will have a zero impact on the validity of your arrest or the charges that follow.

You should hear your Miranda rights before questioning

While police do not need to read you your Miranda rights at the time of your arrest, they must inform you of those rights prior to subjecting you to questioning or interrogation.

Before police attempt to force, trick or coerce you to answer questions about the incident that led to your arrest, they must inform you that you have the right to refuse to answer questions and to ask for an attorney.

Failing to read Miranda rights prior to questioning someone accused of a crime could impact their criminal defense. Failing to do so could mean someone unintentionally waves those rights and says something that implicates themselves.

Knowing your rights is important, as is understanding the best ways to develop a defense strategy. If you are not sure whether your rights were violated during an arrest, look more deeply into federal and state laws, guided by a legal professional in criminal defense.

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Harry N. Starbranch
Harry Starbranch
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