Can Charges Be Dismissed If the Police Did Not Read Me My Miranda Rights
Chances are you’ve heard of Miranda rights from watching your favorite crime drama TV shows or at the very least, you’ve likely heard the phrase: “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.” Miranda warnings serve as safeguards against self-incrimination, a right engraved in the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Courts have deemed these rights so important that law enforcement is required to inform you of them, make sure you understand them, and agree to speak with law enforcement before being questioned by police. Miranda rights only apply to your statements made to law enforcement while in custody and only if you are questioned by law enforcement.
So, what happens if a police officer fails to read you your Miranda rights? Will your charges automatically be dismissed? In short, the answer is no; an officer failing to inform you of your Miranda rights does not result in an automatic dismissal of your charges. However, the answer to that question is yes, if and only if, the police do not have enough evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, without the admissions or statements made.
Continue reading to learn more, or contact Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners to learn how our Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys can help you.
Miranda warnings came out of the famous 1966 U. S. Supreme Court case of Miranda v. Arizona. The central issue, in this case, was an arrest in 1963 of Ernesto Miranda, an indigent 23-year-old high school dropout. He was accused of kidnapping and raping an 18-year-old woman. Miranda was arrested and taken directly to the police station where he wrote and signed a confession. Miranda was not advised that he didn’t have to speak to the police or that he had a right to speak to an attorney before answering any questions. Miranda’s attorney filed a motion to exclude the confession from the trial, but that was denied and Miranda was found guilty of kidnapping and rape. An appeal was filed on Miranda’s behalf in 1966 and the case was heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. The Court ruled that the confession made by Miranda to the police could not be used as evidence against him, since he was not advised of his right to remain silent and his right to consult with an attorney prior to being questioned.
As a result of the Miranda case, the Supreme Court required law enforcement officers to give all criminal arrestees four advisements known as the Miranda warnings before interrogation while in custody. This would ensure that statements made by suspects would be admissible in court. The Miranda warning should state the following:
- You have a right to remain silent,
- Anything you say may be used against you in court,
- You have a right to a lawyer during questioning.
- If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you at no cost.
It is very important that the suspect acknowledge and understand these rights. It is best if the officers ask the suspect “Do you understand?” Then finally, “Knowing these rights do you agree to speak with law enforcement?”
In order for the Miranda warning to be required, both custody and interrogation must exist together. A Miranda warning is not required when the suspect is not in custody. Custody refers to a suspect who has been arrested or otherwise deprived of his freedom of action in any significant way. The more a setting resembles a traditional arrest (i.e. the more constrained a suspect feels), the more likely a court will interpret it to be custody. Not all presence at a police station is custodial. If the detention is voluntary, it does not qualify as custody. The custody test does not depend on the police officer’s subjective intent but rather on the suspect’s reasonable belief that he or she is not free to leave. Examples of a non-custody situation include: a telephone conversation with a detective; a suspect who is subjected to a routine traffic stop is not in custody; or a suspect who voluntarily goes to the police station for an interview with the police is also not in custody, especially if the police inform the suspect that he is not under arrest and free to leave at any time. Examples of custody situations include: a suspect is placed in handcuffs or zip ties; a suspect is held at gunpoint by police; a suspect is placed in the back seat of a caged police car; or a suspect is placed in an interrogation room at the police station and is not permitted to leave.
Interrogation refers not only to direct questioning, but also to any words or actions on the part of law enforcement officers that they should know are reasonably likely to elicit an incriminating (to serve as evidence or proof of involvement in a crime) response from the suspect. Miranda does not apply to spontaneous or volunteered statements not made in response to interrogation. These are completely admissible in court. However, any follow-up questioning by law enforcement on these volunteered or spontaneous statements must be preceded by the Miranda warnings. Routine booking inquiries (such as name, date of birth, place of birth and address) do not qualify as interrogation.
Consequences of No Miranda Warning
If you were not read your Miranda rights, anything you said to law enforcement during an interrogation are usually inadmissible in court. This does not mean that your charges will be dropped or that your case will be dismissed; simply that your statements obtained during the interrogation can be suppressed and cannot be used as evidence against you. This usually has no effect on other evidence against you, including using your “non-Mirandized” statements to contradict you if you testify differently in court. By the way, Ernesto Miranda was retried by the state of Arizona without the confession. He was convicted and sentenced to over 20 years in prison.
Waivers and Invocations
Once the officer has provided the suspect in custody with the Miranda rights (right to remain silent and the right to consult with or have a lawyer present) and the suspect confirmed his understanding of his or her rights, the suspect must then decide to invoke (to declare) or to waive (give up) any of his or her rights and then submit to the questioning by police. If, however, the suspect invokes his or her right to remain silent and to consult with an attorney, then the interview/ questioning is over. Any statements taken after the suspect has invoked his or her right cannot be used as evidence against the suspect in court. If the suspect waives his or her Miranda rights, then that means he or she is giving up these rights and agrees to talk to the police. Usually, the police will have the suspect sign a written waiver stating the suspect is giving up his or her rights to consult with an attorney, remain silent, and agrees to speak with the police.
Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorneys
If you are being investigated or charged with a crime in Los Angeles call our office to schedule a no-cost consultation. We are experienced lawyers with over 50 years of combined criminal law experience and we will provide you with a vigorous defense. If your case involves statements made to the police and there is a Miranda issue, the case will not automatically be dismissed but it could create an obstacle to the prosecute you if the case proceeds to trial.
Contact us online or call our office at (213) 481-6811 for a confidential consultation.