To answer your question upfront: you have to be read your Miranda rights before the police formally question you. That could be in an interrogation room, the side of the road, or anywhere between. If police wants to use your words as evidence, then you need to know your rights.
Now, on TV crime dramas, suspects are usually read their Miranda rights while they’re being handcuffed, so this has led many people to believe that Miranda rights have to be read during an arrest. This is simply not true (TV crime dramas also portray defendants as one tough question away from a tearful courtroom confession…so perhaps avoid using TV as a source of legal information).
We gave you the upfront answer, but have you wondered why police officers have to read your rights in the first place?
Where Miranda Rights Came From
In 1963, Ernesto Miranda was taken into custody on suspicion of kidnapping and rape. He was placed in a lineup, and afterwards police officers implied (to him) that he was positively identified by the victim. Unaware of his right to an attorney or to remain silent, Ernesto confessed to kidnapping and rape and positively identified the victim to the officers. The victim identified Ernesto afterward.
He was then instructed to write his confession, signing a document that he had given his confession without coercion and with “full knowledge of [his] legal rights.” He was represented by a 73-year-old lawyer on the verge of incapacity named Alvin Moore, and was sentenced to 20-30 years.
The legality of his confession was questioned in a landmark Supreme Court case in 1965 (Miranda v. Arizona) that ruled that suspects must be informed of their rights prior to being questioned about their alleged crimes. That’s why—whether it’s on TV or in real life—officers will recite your “Miranda rights” during or after arrests. For the record, Miranda was tried a second time without his confession, and was convicted a second time.
So, Does My Arrest Not Count If I Never Heard My Miranda Rights?
Sorry—if your arrest was preceded by probable cause, you were lawfully detained.
If you read the above story closely, your Miranda rights have nothing to do with police being able to arrest you—it protects you if the police want to question you. The writers of the Constitution intended to protect citizens from saying anything that could incriminate them in a crime—it was a way to prevent people from confessing to crimes unwittingly. The Miranda rights are a reminder of that fact.
We have helped our clients get their cases dismissed or their charges dropped for many reasons, but none of them were dismissed because their Miranda rights weren’t read during their arrest. However, if you were never read your rights before being questioned, that is grounds for not admitting your words as evidence. It may not result in dismissal, but it reduces the evidence used against you—which makes a difference.
If you have any other questions about your criminal case, call (954) 543-1788 today to speak with our criminal defense attorneys in a free consultation—or fill out our short online form!