Most of us have heard it before on television police dramas: “You have the right to remain silent….” That is the sound of a police officer “reading you your rights.” But what happens if the police fail to read you your rights? Do you walk away from what would otherwise be a criminal prosecution? The short answer is “not necessarily.”

Your Miranda Rights

The US Supreme Court has ruled that once detaining you, the police must read you your “Miranda rights” before questioning you, at least if they want to be free to use your statements against you without restriction. You have the right to:

  • Remain silent. The police can use anything you say against you in court.
  • Bring an attorney with you during questioning to advise you.
  • A state-supplied attorney if you cannot afford to hire an attorney on your own.

You should unconditionally exercise the first two of these rights to protect yourself. As to the third, a state-sponsored criminal defense attorney may be juggling dozens of clients at the same time.  

Custodial Interrogation

Your Miranda rights kick in when you face custodial interrogation by the police or another government representative. The police do not have to handcuff you or take your fingerprints for you to qualify as “in custody.” As long as you are not free to leave, or if you reasonably believe you are not free to leave, you are in custody.

The police will sometimes refrain from taking you into custody to prevent your Miranda rights from kicking in. You can be reasonably confident this is the case when the police tell you that you are free to leave but continue questioning you.

The Exclusionary Rule

The exclusionary rule, at least as it applies to your Miranda rights, prevents the police from exercising full freedom to use your own statements against you unless they “read you your rights” before conducting a custodial interrogation. You must also have understood these rights. You may not have understood them if English is not your native language.

How Can the Government Use Your Statements Against You After Failing To Read You Your Rights?

Even if the police violate your Miranda rights, the government can still use your statements to:

  • Challenge your testimony if you say something in court that contradicts something you said to the police during custodial interrogation. The purpose would be to discredit you as a witness, not to prove your guilt directly.
  • Argue for a harsher sentence if the court has already convicted you of a crime.
  • Locate a witness who will then be free to testify against you.
  • Discover evidence through questioning you that they would inevitably have discovered anyway. 

Under the public safety exception to the Miranda rule, the police can question you about a weapon without reading you your rights. The police can also use physical evidence, such as a gun, against you without reading your rights. 

What the police and the prosecution cannot do is directly use your answers to questions that the police asked you in violation of Miranda to prove you guilty. Your attorney might file a Motion to Suppress so that the court will not admit your answers into evidence.

Why You Should Never Talk to the Police Without Your Lawyer Present (Even If You Are Innocent)

The police have a thousand ways of using your words to make you look guilty, even if you are innocent. No law prevents them from lying to you about the evidence against you during custodial interrogation. Even if you are innocent, you might choose to “cooperate” with the police to salvage a favorable plea bargain. Don’t do it. Don’t even drink the glass of water they offer you because you will leave a DNA sample behind that way.

Don’t Represent Yourself in a Criminal Prosecution

You have the right to represent yourself in criminal proceedings. However, if you face serious charges, representing yourself in a criminal prosecution makes about as much sense as attempting to perform surgery on yourself. In fact, surgery is the exact analogy judges frequently use to discourage defendants from seeking to represent themselves. At best, an experienced criminal defense lawyer could save you years of prison time.

Contact the Dayton Criminal Defense Attorneys at Suhre & Associates DUI and Criminal Defense Lawyers For Help Today

For more information, contact the criminal defense attorneys at Suhre & Associates DUI and Criminal Defense Lawyers give us a call today at (937) 531-0435 or visit us at our Dayton law office.

Suhre & Associates DUI and Criminal Defense Lawyers – Dayton
130 West Second Street #17-129
Dayton, OH 45402
United States