person being placed in handcuffs and arrested by police officer - miranda rights concept

If you’ve been arrested on the suspicion that you’ve committed a crime, it’s important to understand your Constitutional rights. Whether it’s a DWI/DUI, a drug crime, an assault, or any other type of criminal offense, law enforcement is required to read you your Miranda rights pursuant to custodial interrogation. But while most people are familiar with the “right to remain silent,” the Miranda warning is not just what you see on television. The Miranda rule is highly nuanced and there are specific procedures involved regarding when and how they must be read.

What are Your Miranda Rights?

The 1966 U.S. Supreme Court case, Miranda v. Arizona, established the requirement that law enforcement must provide you with a specific warning before they can engage in custodial interrogation. Referred to as your “Miranda rights,” this warning is meant to protect your Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. If you have been taken into custody and are not free to leave — and the police wish to interrogate you, they must inform you of the following:

  • You have the right to remain silent
  • Anything you say can be used against you in court
  • You have the right to speak with an attorney and have them present at the interrogation
  • If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to represent you

There are no specific words or phrases that must be used in order for the police to provide you with the required Miranda warning — and they don’t have to be in a particular order. However, it’s essential to be aware that you must affirmatively say you are invoking your right to remain silent and to counsel. This can be done by making a clear statement such as “I am exercising my right to remain silent.” Once you do so, police are required by law to stop questioning you and all interrogation must cease.

When are the Police Required to Read Your Miranda Rights?

There is often much confusion about when the police are required to read your Miranda rights. Critically, they do not have to read your Miranda warning when they’ve pulled you over at a traffic stop — they can question you and use anything you say against you at this time. Police are also not required to immediately give you your Miranda warning upon arrest.

Specifically, the Miranda rule mandates that two conditions be met by police after they arrest you, and before they can interrogate you. Law enforcement must only read your Miranda rights if 1) you have been taken into police custody and 2) they are going to interrogate you.

What Happens if You are Not Given Your Miranda Warnings?

If you were not given your Miranda warning upon being taken into police custody — and prior to being questioned — your Constitutional rights may have been violated. While a violation of your Miranda rights doesn’t always result in an automatic dismissal of a criminal case, it may lead to suppression of any statements you made after the police were required to advise you of the warning. In the event the judge rules that the statements are inadmissible in court, the prosecution’s case against you can become much more challenging.

Can You Waive Your Miranda Rights?

There are some situations in which you may waive your Miranda rights. In such scenarios, the police may continue to question you. However, a waiver of these rights must be voluntary and cannot be coerced by the police. Miranda rights can be waived at any time after they have been read simply by starting to talk voluntarily.

If you were given your Miranda warning and failed to invoke your rights at the time they were read, it does not mean that you cannot later invoke them during the police interrogation. However, any statements that you made before invoking your rights would likely be admissible in court. In addition, Miranda rights do not last indefinitely once you have invoked them — if you leave police custody and return at a later date, you will need to invoke your Miranda rights again to avoid waiving them.

Contact an Experienced North Carolina Criminal Defense Attorney

If you’ve been accused of a criminal offense, a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney can help protect your Constitutional rights and fight for the best possible outcome in your case. The Johnston County criminal defense attorneys at Reece & Reece, Attorneys at Law are dedicated to providing reliable representation for a wide range of criminal offenses in North Carolina. Call (919) 300-1249 to schedule a consultation and learn how we can help.

Categories: Criminal Defense