I Wasn’t Read My Miranda Rights When I Was Arrested… Can I Get My Case Dismissed?

By October 19, 2023No Comments

You’ve likely heard the iconic Miranda rights spoken at some point in your life. The familiar words have been adopted into the lexicon of TV dramas and action movies, where they are painted as a mandatory step in the arrest process. But, in reality there are very specific conditions that warrant a recitation of Miranda rights.

What are Miranda Rights?

Miranda rights, also known as Miranda warnings, inform a person of their legal rights based on the 5th and 6th Amendments of the Constitution. 

  • You have the right to remain silent.
  • Anything you say can be used against you in a court of law.
  • You have the right to have an attorney present.
  • If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to you.

Miranda rights are named after the U.S Supreme Court case Miranda v. Arizona. Ernesto Miranda was arrested for stealing. After multiple hours of questioning, Miranda confessed to stealing, as well as kidnapping and rape. Prior to confessing, he was never told that he did not have to speak to police, nor that he was allowed to consult with an attorney. He was found guilty of the charges based on his confession.

His conviction was appealed to the Supreme Court, where the Justices ruled that Miranda should have been informed of his Constitutional rights prior to questioning. His statements to police should not – and could no longer – be used as evidence in court. Because of this ruling, police are required to inform suspects of their Miranda rights under certain circumstances.

Two things must happen to trigger an advisement of rights. First, a suspect must be in custody. Second, they must be undergoing questioning or interrogation.

For example, if you are arrested for a DUI and the officer does not read you your rights, it is because you are in custody, but not being questioned. If an officer approaches you and asks to speak to you, he does not have to read you your rights, as you are being questioned but you are not in custody. It is wise to always exercise your rights to silence and an attorney if you feel you are being investigated for a crime.

Miranda Rights in Idaho – Idaho v. Kent

Every state has different court opinions clarifying Miranda rights and how they should be applied. In 2020, the Idaho Court of Appeals overturned a district court’s decision to throw out statements made by the defendant, who asserted that his right to silence was violated.

James Kent was being questioned but was not in custody. The officer began to read Kent his Miranda rights when Kent interrupted, insisting that he would not answer any questions. The officer finished reading the Miranda rights, and asked if Kent would speak to him. Kent said he would, and eventually made incriminating statements.

The district court chose to throw out these statements, asserting that although reading the Miranda warnings was unnecessary, once they are read an officer cannot ignore the statement that Kent would not answer questions. The district court maintained that his statements obtained afterwards were in violation of his right to silence.

This decision was appealed, and the Idaho Supreme Court overturned the district court’s decision for two reasons. Miranda rights had been inappropriately applied to a non-custodial interrogation, and Kent had made his statements voluntarily. His incriminating statements were allowed to be used as evidence, and the case proceeded.

In Conclusion

The applications of Miranda warnings are highly complex. A situation where you might expect to hear Miranda rights may not actually warrant them. Not being read your Miranda rights does not mean that your case will automatically be dismissed.

If you have questions about your arrest, or you are being investigated for a crime, you should immediately consult an attorney who can look at your situation and provide guidance.

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