Police officers have to provide Miranda warnings to suspects in custody before they talk to them, especially if they plan to question the suspect. If the police do not give Miranda warnings, any statements that a suspect makes are off-limits in a trial. They cannot be used as evidence.
However, there are some very limited exceptions to the Miranda Rule. This would include situations in which officers have a suspect in custody and question them without providing a warning. There are situations in which the answers they get from the suspect might still be admissible in court for some purposes.
The Miranda Rule is important in criminal procedure. Anytime a person is arrested on suspicion of committing a crime, they must be informed of their Miranda rights. These have been popularized in movies and real crime TV shows, so many Americans know the Miranda Rule, the Miranda requirements, and the Miranda rights as follows:
- The Right to Remain Silent: A person has a right to remain silent when they are questioned by the police while in police custody. If the police interview a person who is in police custody about an alleged crime, a person is free not to answer. If they do speak with the police, anything they say can and will be used against them in a court of law;
- The Right to the Counsel During Questioning: A person in custody has a right to have an attorney present during police questioning;
- The Right to Be Provided with an Attorney If They Cannot Afford One: A person has a right to be provided with an attorney if they cannot afford one.
These rights are often stated by the arresting officer at the time of a suspect’s arrest before the suspect is subjected to questioning about a criminal offense. In addition, the suspect must be informed of the consequences of waiving their rights (i.e., “anything you say can be held against you in a court of law.”)
The purpose of Miranda rights and the requirement that a suspect be informed of them before questioning is to protect citizens. It is a way to inform people of the rights they have at a critical moment in a criminal case. The Miranda warning is not familiar to many, but not all people. Suspects in custody facing police questioning need to know that they have these rights.
The penalty for the prosecution if police fail to provide the warning, ignore a suspect who asks for an attorney, or indicate that they wish to remain silent should act as a motivation to the police.
They may fail to give a warning or ignore a suspect when the suspect asserts their right to remain silent or to speak to an attorney. If so, the prosecution cannot use any statement that the suspect makes. This penalty should motivate the police to respect the Miranda Rule and comply with it by giving a warning and respecting suspects who ask to remain silent and/or to talk to a lawyer.
What Are Some Exceptions to the Miranda Rule?
There are some exceptions to the Miranda Rule, in which an interrogation can legally take place without law enforcement reading a suspect their Miranda rights first. These include situations such as the following:
- The suspect is being asked questions that are part of standard booking procedures;
- The situation involves a public emergency, such as a hostage negotiation or another situation that puts public safety at risk. For example, the police can question a person holding someone hostage, even if they requested an attorney and their attorney has not yet shown up;
- The person voluntarily waives their Miranda rights and willingly participates in an in-custody interrogation.
One important exception to the Miranda requirement was recognized in the Miranda opinion. The U.S. Supreme Court recognized that a suspect may voluntarily and knowingly give up their Miranda rights and respond to questioning. If the prosecution then wants to use the suspect’s statement to establish their guilt in a criminal trial, the prosecution bears the burden of proving that the defendant made a valid waiver of their Miranda rights. And if the prosecution succeeds in this, they may make any use they want of the statements.
If a suspect waives their Miranda protection, their Miranda rights are essentially eliminated or at least reduced.
Other exceptions involve the use that the prosecution in a criminal case may make of statements made by a suspect that have been gathered in violation of the Miranda Rule.
If a suspect makes admissions when they have not been warned or have been warned improperly, their admissions may not be used directly against them at trial. This means that their admissions cannot be used by the prosecution to prove the person’s guilt. They also may not be used at a sentencing hearing.
However, the Supreme Court has permitted some uses of these admissions for other purposes. They can be used to impeach the defendant if the defendant takes the witness stand. This means that the prosecution can use the admission to cast doubt on the defendant’s testimony.
The defendant may testify and deny their guilt. In that case, the prosecution can use the admission they made to the police to show the jury that the defendant said something different when questioned by the police. The prosecution can do this even if the police did not give the defendant their Miranda warning or did it incorrectly.
For example, courts have allowed the prosecution to make use of a defendant’s statement even when the police had ignored their request for an attorney after they received the Miranda warning.
What if My Miranda Rights Have Been Violated?
The Miranda Rule only applies only if the suspect being questioned is in police custody and not before that time. Until a questioning session begins and the suspect is in police custody, police are not required to provide a Miranda warning. This creates an issue regarding what constitutes an interrogation.
Typically, a request for identifying information is not considered an interrogation. Questions about a person’s name, date of birth, and address are allowed without Miranda warnings.
However, once a police officer begins asking questions that may implicate the person questioned in the commission of a crime, an interrogation has begun. A Miranda warning must come first before any questions are posed. If the warning is not made or is made incorrectly, any statements the person questioned makes can be suppressed at trial.
Common ways that the Miranda rights can be violated include:
- A failure to read the rights when it is required;
- Conduct by police that intentionally disregards a suspect’s Miranda rights, e.g., the suspect asks for a lawyer, and the police ignore the request and continue with their questioning;
- Reading the rights incorrectly.
Miranda rights have to do with interrogation rights. If Miranda rights have been violated, it usually means that the interrogation is botched, and the evidence obtained from that interrogation cannot be heard by the judge or jury and entered into the trial record.
Do I Need the Help of a Lawyer With My Miranda Rule Issues?
Miranda rights are basic protections afforded to all criminal suspects and need to be addressed properly in any investigation. It is in your interest to consult a criminal defense lawyer if you or a loved one needs legal representation in a criminal case.
An attorney can provide legal advice and help ensure that your rights are not violated. Proper representation is essential during any criminal trial. Consider using LegalMatch.com to find an experienced criminal defense lawyer in your area today.