Miranda Rights Might Not Apply In Your Situation
A Miranda warning is designed to protect you from the police forcing or coercing incriminating statements from you while you are in their custody. The warning concerns a few of your Constitutional rights including the right to remain silent and the right to have an attorney in your corner when you are interrogated. What many people do not know is that a Miranda warning only applies in a limited number of situations. Not all police questions are considered an interrogation. Similarly, not all interactions that you have with the police will involve you being deemed in their custody. If you are not in one of those limited situations, then any incriminating statement that you make to the police could be used against you. Here are some key situations where Miranda rights may not apply.
When You Are Not In Police Custody
Generally speaking, police custody means any interaction with the police where a reasonable person would believe that they are not free to leave. This would certainly include being under arrest and placed into the back of a police car. But what about being called down to the police station for questioning? Some courts have found that this does not qualify as police custody because you are not under arrest and could decline to submit to questions at any time.
Mere interactions with the police don’t necessitate a Miranda warning either. For example, an officer who pulls up to a car crash and begins asking questions of bystanders does not have to read them a Miranda warning because none of those bystanders are in police custody at the time of the questioning.
Statements Made Before Exercising Your Miranda Rights
Assuming that you are in police custody, are read a Miranda warning and are about to be interrogated, then any statements that you make before asserting your Miranda rights could be used against you. In other words, if you confess to something before making it known to the police that you wish to end questioning or have your attorney present, then your confession could potentially be used against you. The takeaway here is that you have to actively assert your Miranda rights for them to take effect. The police can continue to question you and use your statements against you if you do not assert those rights verbally or in writing.
It is important to note that minors in California (anyone under the age of 18) must have an attorney present when being read their Miranda warning. A new law makes it mandatory for all police interrogations of minors to have an attorney present for the purpose of ensuring that the child understands that they have the right to refuse to answer questions. Children are especially vulnerable to coercive interrogations and to underappreciate the effect of Miranda warning. California is one of the few states in the U.S. to have this requirement.
Statements Made To Informants, Undercover Officers
Again, Miranda rights only apply to statements made to the police while in their custody during an interrogation. As such, statements that you make to private citizens or undercover officers can still be used against you in a criminal proceeding. And in the case of a private citizen, any statement that you make to them is not protected as private citizens are not police officers. Statements made to informants can also be used against you in a criminal proceeding. In fact, police are permitted to place informants in a jail cell for the sole purpose of eliciting a confession or an incriminating statement from you.
Statements Made During Public Safety Emergency Or Terrorist Act
When national security is at stake, there is an exception to the Miranda warning. In order for this exception to apply, there must be an imminent threat, and law enforcement must show a reasonable need to protect the public from an immediate danger. This exception is rarely used, and courts have narrowly construed this exception to only the most extreme scenarios.
Whether or not you are in police custody, if you blurt out an unsolicited incriminating statement, it may be used against you in a criminal proceeding. What this means is that in order for a Miranda warning to apply, the police must be in the process of interrogating you. The definition of interrogation not only includes questioning but also statements from the police that are designed to likely produce an incriminating reply. Still, any statements that you make outside of an interrogation may be used against you.
A Miranda warning only applies to testimonial evidence. What this means is that while your statements and documents might be protected, other sources of evidence are not. As a result, you have the right to refuse verbal or written questions from the police, but you do not have the right to refuse to give DNA, fingerprints or other non-testimonial evidence. Still, those types of non-testimonial evidence will most likely need to be compelled through a court order or warrant.
Hiring A California Defense Lawyer To Defend Your Rights
If the police do not read you a Miranda warning while you are in custody and about to be interrogated, then unlike what you see in the movies, your case will not automatically be dismissed. You or your attorney will need to petition the court to exclude your statement from being used in a criminal proceeding. The prosecutor in your case will not meekly accept your argument that your statements should be thrown out. Hiring an experienced California criminal defense attorney will give you the best chance of enforcing your rights since these professionals know the law and will vigorously argue on your behalf.
The attorneys at My Rights Law Group – Criminal & DUI Attorneys have extensive experience protecting the rights of the accused. We are on your side. If you have been criminally charged in California, call (888) 702-8882 or contact us online for a free consultation with one of our knowledgeable criminal defense attorneys.