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Questioning After Arrest

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What Happens If the Police Do Not Read My Rights?

The Miranda warning requires police officers to read you your rights and let you know of the certain rights that you have after your arrest. The police must provide the Miranda warnings once you are placed in custody and before any interrogation or questioning. If the police fail to read you your rights before a custodial interrogation, anything you say cannot be used against you in the prosecutors case-in-chief at trial.

Many people believe that if they are placed under arrest and are not read their rights, their case can be dismissed and they can escape punishment. This is not true because if the police place you under arrest, the police do not need to provide any Miranda warnings if they do not interrogate or question the suspect that will result in an incriminating response.

What Rights Are the Police Required to Provide?

Popularly known as the "Miranda" warning, a defendant's rights consist of the familiar litany invoked by TV police immediately upon making an arrest:

  • You have the right to remain silent.
  • If you do say anything, what you say can be used against you in a court of law.
  • You have the right to consult with a lawyer and have that lawyer present during any questioning.
  • If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be appointed for you if you so desire.
  • If you choose to talk to the police officer, you have the right to stop the interview at any time.

If the person is not placed in custody and has the freedom to leave, then no Miranda warnings are required and anything the person says to the police can be used against them in a criminal trial. The police can also arrest the person if the person confesses voluntarily without any interrogation or questioning by the police.

Does it Matter Where the Interrogation Take Place?

It doesn't matter where an interrogation occurs. If you are in custody, the police must read you your rights if they want to question you and use your answers as evidence at trial. If you are not in police custody, however, "Miranda" warnings are not required to be read and anything you say can be used at trial if you are later charged with a crime.

The police questioning also can take place in jail. The suspect does not have to respond to the police interrogation and once the suspect raises their right to remain silent or asks for their attorney, the police must stop all questioning. A police officer also cannot arrest a person just because they wish to remain silent.

Questioning or interrogations during a routine traffic stop does not require the police to provide Miranda warnings.

What If My Answers Were Forced Out of Me?

Voluntary disclosure of information is generally admissible at trial. However, police officers are not allowed to use physical force or psychological coercion to get you to talk to the suspect. If police officers obtain information through these illegal means, the information is not allowed at trial. In addition, any evidence that is gathered as a result of the illegal questioning will also be inadmissible in a criminal trial even if the evidence was found legally. This is because the evidence would not have been found without the illegal interrogation by police.

Some interrogations that are illegal for police to engage in are:

  • Using some type of physical force or torture to get the suspect to talk
  • Use threats
  • Psychologically or mentally abusing the suspect for questions

Do I Need a Lawyer If My Rights Were Violated?

If you feel the police violated your rights and you want to file a lawsuit to collect money for your injuries, you should speak to a criminal defense lawyer immediately to learn more about your rights and the complicated legal system.

Photo of page author Kourosh Akhbari

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 07-15-2015 11:25 PM PDT

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