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What Are Miranda Rights Violations?

Posted by Dmitry Gorin | Mar 23, 2024

Reading Miranda Rights can become crucial to criminal cases when someone is arrested for an alleged crime. For example, before police interrogate you after an arrest, they must explain these rights and ensure you understand them.

Suppose they fail to read you your rights. In that case, it could make some or all of the questioning inadmissible in court. Sometimes, it can impact the prosecutor's ability to convict you.

Notably, however, there is often a great misunderstanding about when someone's Miranda Rights have been violated.  For example, a common myth is that when someone is arrested and does not read their rights, their case will be dropped, and they will not have to suffer any consequences for their illegal conduct.

Suppose you were arrested and charged with any California crime and believe that police did not correctly explain your Miranda rights. In that case, you should seek legal guidance.   Let's review this topic in more detail below.

What Exactly Are the “Miranda Rights?”

The Miranda Rights are named after the Supreme Court Case Miranda v. Arizona, which established the legal requirement that police “read you your rights” after an arrest and before questioning. 

Miranda Rights Violations
Police officers must read the Miranda warning before asking incriminating questions.

In this case, the court determined that the constitutional rights of Ernesto Miranda were violated during his arrest and trial for armed robbery, kidnapping, and rape. In other words, police must explain your Miranda rights after an arrest and before asking questions or seeking a formal statement while in police custody.

These rights restate the Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the Constitution, which are the right not to incriminate yourself and the right to have an attorney. 

Before police can start asking questions after someone is arrested, they must read a similar version of the Miranda Warning: You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in court. You have the right to an attorney. One will be provided for you if you cannot afford an attorney. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you? Do you wish to speak to me with these rights in mind?

If you say something voluntarily before questioning you, or if they never officially question you, the words you said in their presence could still be used against you in court. This is why it's usually best to remain silent. 

What About a Miranda Warning at the Time of Arrest?

To avoid confusion, it's essential to understand that this Miranda Warning is only required before any incriminating questions are asked after an arrest.

This means the police are not necessarily required to read the Miranda Warning at the time of the arrest, which is where many are confused. Simply put, Miranda Rights have nothing to do with the arrest itself but only with police questioning you after your arrest. 

Suppose the police decide not to ask you why you were arrested. In that case, they are not required to read your rights.

Suppose you are not under arrest but instead temporarily detained. In that case, police can ask you anything without a Miranda warning, but you are not obligated to answer their questions.

What About a Miranda Warning in DUI Cases? 

Suppose you are pulled over on a traffic stop for suspected driving under the influence (DUI). In that case, police are not typically required to read your Miranda rights unless you are arrested; they start asking related questions at this point. 

In other words, a Miranda warning is not always required after a driving under the influence arrest, but again, it's only needed before an interrogation.

Suppose law enforcement officers conduct a DUI investigation on the side of the road to determine whether to arrest you.  In that case, they are NOT required to read your Miranda rights because you are not yet arrested.

During a routine DUI investigation in Los Angeles, police officers will follow specific procedures, such as the following:

  • Ask the driver for their license and proof of insurance; 
  • They are seeking signs of intoxication, such as the smell of alcohol, slurred speech, watery eyes, slow responses, poor motor skills, or having trouble finding their driver's license; 
  • They often ask if you have been drinking alcohol recently;
  • Ask to take a preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) breath test;
  • Ask the driver to perform field sobriety tests;
  • Ask the driver to take a cheek swab for marijuana DUI;
  • Ask to be subjected to a horizontal nystagmus test (HGN), which involves an involuntary jerking of the eyes.

You should notice that the steps above describe a DUI investigation before an arrest. Thus, there is no legal requirement to read your Miranda rights during this process. 

Suppose you are subsequently arrested for DUI after the investigation. In that case, a Miranda warning is required before asking any further incriminating questions.

Notably, during a DUI traffic stop, you always have the legal right to remain silent when police ask questions, but you must show them your driver's license and proof of insurance. 

Can You Waive a Miranda Warning?

Yes, you can. After the police read the Miranda warning, they will ask whether you understand your rights and want to talk to them. If you agree, this is known as a “Miranda waiver.” 

Police don't have to use specific words when asking whether you wish to waive your Miranda rights, but the questions will be close to what follows below: 

  • Do you clearly understand these rights, as I explained?
  • Knowing that you have the right to remain silent and not answer any questions, will you still talk to us?
  • Are you willing to sign a written waiver acknowledging that you have waived your rights?

Suppose you verbally agree to speak with them. In that case, you have just waived your Miranda rights and invoked the right to remain silent. 

What Happens if Police Violate Your Miranda Rights?

Suppose the police interrogate you without reading the Miranda Warning. They do not allow you to have an attorney present while questioning you, or they attempt to coerce you into making self-incriminating statements during the interrogation. In that case, your answers should be inadmissible in court

Your attorney usually files a California Penal Code 1538.5 PC motion to suppress evidence. This legal procedure claims that the statements you made to the police, under those circumstances, were obtained unlawfully. If the court grants the motion, those statements will be excluded.

Will Your Criminal Case Be Dismissed Over Miranda Violations?

The short answer is sometimes, but only sometimes. First, you must understand that a Miranda violation is not necessarily grounds for dismissing the criminal charges against you.

It means that the information the police obtained during the violation, such as a confession, was acquired involuntarily and may not be used as evidence. 
Suppose it's the only evidence against you. In that case, the prosecutor typically has no option but to dismiss the case. But, notably, if there is other relevant evidence to prove the criminal case, prosecutors could still proceed. 

Suppose your legal rights were violated during or after an arrest in Los Angeles. We can help. As noted, when law enforcement doesn't inform you of your rights and then illegally acquires evidence or a confession, it could be excluded in court, called inadmissible evidence. You can contact us by phone or through the contact form. Eisner Gorin LLP is based in Los Angeles, CA. 

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About the Author

Dmitry Gorin

Dmitry Gorin is a licensed attorney, who has been involved in criminal trial work and pretrial litigation since 1994. Before becoming partner in Eisner Gorin LLP, Mr. Gorin was a Senior Deputy District Attorney in Los Angeles Courts for more than ten years. As a criminal tri...

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