“The Police didn’t read me my rights!”
This is one of the most common comments Connecticut criminal lawyers hear from our clients who have been arrested by Police. I hear this at least once a week. So, I decided to write a blog about the topic so I can share it with my clients when they have this question.
My clients are really concerned because often the police never read them their Miranda rights. People think if the police did not read them their rights that means we can get the case against them tossed out. The short answer is generally no but it depends on the specific circumstances of your case. It is always best to consult with an experienced Stamford criminal attorney regarding your case, especially before you answer any police questions.
What I am going to do in this blog is explain what these Miranda rights are, . . . and how they apply to a criminal case. A lot of people have seen a lot of TV shows where the police carry around a small card which they use to read suspects their “rights” and for this reason people think that the police have to do this every time they make an arrest. This is not correct.
Miranda is a Supreme Court decision that was issued back in 1966, in response to really hard core police interrogation techniques at that time which were so draconian they were known by the nick name the “third degree.” The police may have softened their approach but they still play by a dirty set of rules even today. Lets’ call today’s approach the “second degree.” Back in 1966, people were often subjected to really intensive interrogations by the police and coerced into making confessions to crimes without being advised of their right to counsel. This was a really low point in our system of justice where a lot of innocent people were forced to confess to crimes they never committed by overly zealous police who assumed that they had the “right guy.”
The Supreme Court found in the Miranda case that there were too many times where police were forcing, ticking or coercing confessions or statements out of suspects. So the Supreme Court required that before the police are going to interrogate somebody who they have in their physical custody they have to give them a series of warnings. These warnings are what is know as your Miranda rights or being Mirandized when you are arrested before you are questioned.
The Court required that the police inform you:
- You have the right to remain silent;
- anything they say can be used against you court;
- You have a right to have an attorney present during questioning and if you can not afford one, an attorney will be appointed for you by the court
That is basically what your Miranda rights are.
A key takeaway for Miranda is that you have to be 1 – “in custody” and 2 “being interrogated” for the protections to apply. A lot of police interactions are not custodial arrests and are not interrogations.
Three important points about your Miranda rights.
- Top Stamford criminal lawyers will agree that the police don’t have to read you your rights even if they arrest you and they are not going to “interrogate” you. If you say something to the police during the booking process, while sitting in the back of a police car, or yell out a confession from the jail cell, it can and will be used against you and Miranda does not protect you because it was not an “interrogation.”
- You are not protected by Miranda when you are not “in custody.” This means that if the police stop you for a traffic stop or if you come into the police station voluntarily and make a statement you are not considered to be “in custody” so Miranda does not protect you. If you are “free to leave” you are not in custody and the protection does not apply to anything you say, even if you were not read your rights.
- If police fail to read you your Miranda rights the remedy is to argue that any statements made under interrogation should be suppressed. It does not mean that the arrest itself is unconstitutional. Even if your incriminating statement was suppressed by the Court because the police failed to read you your rights you could still be convicted after a trial based upon other evidence. In fact Miranda himself was convicted at his trial for rape after the forced confession he made to the police was suppressed.
In 90% of your encounters with Connecticut police your Miranda rights will never even come up due to several reasons. In most cases the Police do not need your voluntary statements in order to secure enough evidence to arrest you. In other situations the police will trick you with manipulation techniques into giving a voluntary statement. One of the classic methods they like to use here in Connecticut when you are suspect in a criminal investigation is call you up and ask you if you want to “give your side of the story?” This is particularly the case in sex crimes and domestic violence case investigations. At this point you are clearly not in custody so everything you say will be used against you and they don’t have to read you your rights first. Don’t fall for the bait. No matter how tempting it may be to speak your mind you are only digging yourself deeper into the hole.
Other times they will tell you that things will go “easy” for you if you speak to them. So many of my clients have signed “waiver of rights” forms which clearly set forth all their Miranda warnings and proceeded to give voluntary statements against themselves because the police used mental manipulation and coercion to trick them into signing the form.
Do yourself a favor and never speak to the Police without first speaking to an experienced Stamford criminal lawyer.
If you follow my advice you will never need a Miranda warning because you will never – ever – speak to the police without first contacting a Connecticut criminal lawyer.
Clients who give statements to the police are always shooting themselves in the foot. Why help the police to build a case against you. If you would like to speak to me about any legal matter feel free to call me for a free consultation. I can be reached at (203) 357-5555 24/7 or contact us for a free consultation now.