When someone gets arrested it is one of the most stressful things that can happen to you. Especially if you are not familiar with the legal system and process. Many people think that their Miranda Rights must be read to them simply because they have been arrested. That is not what the Miranda rights provide. If the police are not questioning you beyond basic information such as what is your name, address, and phone number, they are not required to read your Miranda rights to you even if you are arrested. Miranda rights do not kick in until you are being interrogated by police and not permitted to leave. A suspect is being “interrogated” when police officers begin asking him or her questions that could implicate him or her in a crime. While Miranda warnings are extremely important, an officer’s failure to read them in and of itself does not result in a dismissal of criminal charges. Simply put, Miranda warnings themselves are not constitutional rights; rather, they are safeguards against the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. If you have been arrested, consulting with an experienced Jacksonville criminal attorney is advised.
Miranda rights or Miranda warnings get their name from the 1966 United States Supreme Court case, Miranda v. Arizona. In that case, the Supreme Court held the United States Constitution’s Fifth Amendment prohibition against self-incrimination applies to an individual who is in police custody. In order to safeguard that right, the Court ruled that before questioning suspects in custody, law enforcement officials must inform suspects of the following rights:
1. They have the right to remain silent;
2. Their statements may be used against them at a trial;
3. They have the right to have an attorney present during any questioning by law enforcement;
4. And if they cannot afford and attorney, one would be appointed for them.
The definition behind what constitutes “police custody” and when an “interrogation” takes place is looked at on a case-by-case basis. Courts have specifically defined both for certain situations in case law throughout the years, however, each circumstance presents a unique set of facts and should be evaluated by a knowledgeable Jacksonville criminal defense attorney. Once a person invokes his or her Miranda rights, that is, the right to remain silent and/or the right to consult with an attorney, the police must stop questioning that person. A resumption of questioning is only permissible once the suspect’s counsel has been made available to him, or he himself initiates further communication, exchanges, or conversations with the police.
What Are Some Other Exceptions to Miranda Rights?
1. The person has not been arrested yet. The Miranda warning is only in effect during a custodial interrogation. This means a person has been taken into custody and the police have read the person their Miranda rights in order to use that person’s statements as evidence at trial. However, if a person issues statements to the police before they are arrested or taken into custody and is later charged with a crime, those statements can be used in their trial, regardless of whether they have been read their Miranda rights.
2. The person is being charged with loitering. In Florida, a person can be charged with loitering if they are wandering around a place and behaving in a way that raises alarm for public safety. If the police suspect someone of loitering, they can demand to see some form of identification and for the individual to explain their actions. If the person refuses to talk, they can be arrested for loitering.
3. The person has been stopped for a suspected traffic violation. As Jacksonville criminal defense lawyers we deal with many traffic cases. We see numerous cases where people are stopped for traffic violations and feel their rights to “remain silent” have been violated. During a roadside traffic stop, a police officer can ask to see a driver’s license and vehicle registration and ask questions regarding identification. A roadside stop is not considered custodial and law enforcement are allowed to ask routine questions.
4. Public Safety Exception / Terrorism: This exception is triggered when national security is at stake, or law enforcement has reasonable need to protect the public from immediate danger. Miranda warnings are not required prior to asking questions directed at subduing an imminent threat, and voluntary statements made in response to such specific questions can be admitted at trial. In summary, if you are stopped by a law enforcement officer and they begin asking you questions beyond the scope of identification type questions, invoke your right to remain silent even if the officer has not read you the Miranda rights. If you are arrested, don’t engage the law enforcement officer in small talk and do not answer any questions that may lead to you being charged with a crime. Many people in their need to defend themselves start blurting out statements to police officers that later can and will be used against them. The most important thing to remember is, if you are arrested, make sure to call your Jacksonville criminal defense attorney immediately.