Miranda Rights Violations in California
If you have been detained by law enforcement, a "Miranda warning" must be read before they can start asking you specific questions that might be incriminating. They must explain these rights and make sure you understand them before any interrogation after an arrest.
Under federal law, the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution allows you not to make any statements that could incriminate you. In addition, the Sixth Amendment guarantees you specific rights, such as the right to a lawyer after being accused of a crime.
These rights are included in the infamous Miranda rights, which is also referred to as “Miranda warnings,” which is a statement of your rights that have to be explained by law enforcement before any questioning or interrogation.
If they fail to read your rights before questioning starts, your answers could be considered inadmissible in court and can't be used. Miranda rights are guaranteed at the federal level and apply when you are detained and questioned by any federal law enforcement agents or the local police force.
While the laws seem straightforward, confusion is typical regarding how they apply, particularly when police need to read someone their Miranda rights. Unfortunately, some mistakenly believe they must read these rights when arrested, but this is a common myth.
Police are not required to read the Miranda warning when you are arrested, but only if they decide to ask you questions after the arrest. Our California criminal defense lawyers will examine this law closer below.
Miranda Warnings - Explained
The Miranda warnings are a quick summary of your Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights that law enforcement must legally read to you after you are arrested but before questioning begins about an alleged crime.
This legal requirement is based on the 1966 Supreme Court case of Miranda v. Arizona, where the court ruled that police have to tell suspects they have a right to remain silent and have a right to an attorney before any interrogation.
The Miranda warnings say, “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, which will be provided for you if you cannot afford it. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you? Do you wish to speak to me with these rights in mind?”
If the police fail to read this warning before asking you questions, any evidence acquired could be deemed inadmissible in court.
How Can Your Miranda Rights Be Violated?
Police could violate your Miranda rights in other ways besides just failing to read your rights, such as the following:
- Refusal to allow you to have a lawyer present during questioning. If the police refuse to let a lawyer present during questioning, they violate your Miranda rights.
- Attempting to coerce self-incriminating statements. Police can't use coercion or manipulative tactics, such as forcing a confession out of you.
If police violate your rights, not only are your statements inadmissible in court, but the judge could even decide to dismiss the case entirely due to the breach of your federal rights.
What is a Waiver?
Many mistakenly believe police must read your rights at your arrest, but it only applies if the police intend to interrogate you. They don't have to explain your Miranda rights if they don't question you.
They can ask you any questions if you're not actually under arrest. Once they read your rights, they will usually ask if you clearly understand the rights I just explained. Then, they will ask if you want to answer their questions.
If you agree, you have just waived your Miranda rights and invoked the right to remain silent. You might be asked to sign a written waiver acknowledging that you have waived your rights.
What if You Are Questioned Without a Miranda Warning?
Suppose police question you without being read the Miranda warnings. In that case, your answers can't be used as evidence against you.
You have the right to remain silent and refuse to answer any questions, even if they don't tell you. If police use the information from unlawful questioning against you in court, your lawyer can file a motion to suppress this evidence. In some situations, the case against you could be dismissed.
Can You Still Be Convicted of a Crime?
Yes. If the police fail to read your rights, it does not make the arrest or charges invalid. Failing to read Miranda will only invalidate the answers you give to law enforcement during questioning, so they can't be used to prove your guilt.
You could still be charged with the crime in question, and prosecutors could present other evidence at trial to secure a conviction. However, if the only evidence they have is unlawful interrogation, that evidence is inadmissible, and the judge will generally drop your case.
Miranda violations are not necessarily grounds for dismissing the charges against you, but the information, such as a confession, can't be used. Contact us to review the case if you believe your Miranda rights may have been violated.
We need to first closely review all the details of your case to offer any legal advice. Eisner Gorin LLP is located in Los Angeles, California. You can reach us for a case review by phone or using the contact form.