Maybe you had a few too many drinks with dinner and got caught driving while impaired. Maybe you got into a fight at the bar and found yourself in handcuffs when the police showed up. Either way, the one thing you know for certain is that you were most certainly not read your Miranda rights before you were put in the back of the police cruiser.
Will your case get tossed? We hate to tell you this, but probably not.
Why didn’t the police read you your rights?
The police only have to give you a Miranda warning — that little speech that you hear so often on television reminding you that you have a right to remain silent, that what you do say can be used against you in court and that you have a right to an attorney — under certain circumstances. The odds are good that you weren’t in one of those situations.
Essentially, the authorities are only required to give you a Miranda warning if you are both in police custody and under interrogation. This is important to understand because far too many people think that whatever they may have said prior to their arrest is somehow inadmissible in court. It isn’t. Nor is anything you volunteered.
For example, if the police officer who stopped your car asked if you’d been drinking and you admitted to having a couple of beers and blew a .10% on a Breathalyzer, your statements can be used against you. Similarly, if the police enter the bar and see you wielding a chair in a fight, they don’t need to interrogate you to make their case.
On the other hand, if the police pulled you into the station to ask you about a shooting and held you there for questioning against your will, that’s a situation where a Miranda warning is required.
What options do you have for a defense?
Every situation is different, but the best way to help yourself is to remember this: Invoke your right to remain silent immediately — even if you aren’t given a Miranda warning. The only person you should be talking to after an arrest is your criminal defense attorney.