Anyone who has ever watched a cop show on television is well aware of the Miranda Warning. It starts with, "You have the right to remain silent..."
The Miranda Warning came from a U.S. Supreme Court case,Miranda v. Arizona, which held that before law enforcement officers can subject you to custodial interrogation, they must advise you of the following:
1) You have the right to remain silent. This means that you do not have to speak with law enforcement officers unless you chose to do so. This right comes from the 5th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which protects you from self-incrimination.
2) Anything that you do say can and will be used against you in court. This is because anything an accused person says is admissible in any proceeding against them. This is how confessions, admissions, and statements are used to convict people.
3) You have the right to have an attorney present while being questioned by the police.
4) If you cannot afford an attorney, a public defender will be appointed for you.
The police will then always ask whether you understood the rights. This is important because only a knowing and voluntary waiver of your Miranda Rights will make your statements to police admissible. If you did not understand your rights or they were not waived voluntarily (the police threatened or forced you to talk), then your statements to police will be excluded from evidence.
Miranda Rights do not need to be read during every police-citizen encounter. You must be in custody, for one, and you must be subject to interrogation.
Just because you are in custody (under arrest) doesn't mean that Miranda automatically applies. The police must be trying to elicit information from you regarding the charged crime. If the police decide not to talk to you, they can just arrest you and take you to the police station for booking. In this situation, they do not need to read you your rights.
However, if you are under arrest and the police want to talk to you about the charged crime, they must read you your rights.
Rights can be read by card (out loud) or by form (in writing, signed by the accused). More and more police departments are relying on written Miranda waiver forms because they provide written proof as to how and when Miranda was read to the accused.
Now, just because you talk to police doesn't mean that they must read you your rights either. If you are engaged in a casual conversation with police where it is clear that you are free to go, there is no requirement that Miranda be read.
If the police are issuing you a citation or obtaining routine information (name, date of birth, etc...), there is no requirement that Miranda be read.
Cases can be won with a good motion to suppress a confession, statement, or admission. However, the only statements that can really be suppressed are those made to law enforcement officers. Miranda does not apply to private citizens. If an accused murderer confesses to police while in custody and under questioning but the police did not read Miranda, the confession will likely be excluded from evidence. If the same accused murderer confesses to a friend, the confession will be admitted no matter what.
Only police officers must read you your Miranda Rights.
It is important to be careful what you say around police officers when under investigation. Police officers may come accross as friendly, even genuinely concerned, but they are trained in the art of extracting information from a suspect. They are not trying to help you. They are trying to gather evidence that will convict you.
WHEN YOU ARE A SUSPECT, THE POLICE ARE NOT YOUR FRIENDS!
Bottom line: don't make statements to police unless you have spoken to a South Florida criminal defense attorney first.
The Law Offices of Eric M. Matheny, P.A. is a criminal defense law firm that serves the Miami-Dade and Broward areas. Call today to speak with Attorney Eric Matheny regarding your case.