They Didn't Read Me My Rights!

"They didn't read me my rights!"

I get told that all the time. It is actually aggravating sometimes. The reason is most of the time that people think it is significant is because they have been watching too much TV. As most people know, the rights people are asking about are the Miranda warnings where you are supposed to be told you have the right to remain silent and all the stuff that goes with that.

There is a common mis-perception that if an officer doesn't read you your rights that your case automatically gets dismissed. I wish it did! I would probably win just about every single case I get because people are rarely read their rights. Another thing that might surprise most people is that in most cases they do not have to read you your rights.

You might ask, "How can that be?" I'll tell you. Law enforcement doesn't have to read you your rights unless you are in what is considered a "custodial interrogation." That means you are in custody. This usually means arrest, but there are other situations where you could be considered in custody, but that is a topic for another blog.

The most common example I can give involves DUI cases. You have been stopped for a DUI investigation. The officer asks you to step out and perform field sobriety tests. He asks you what you have been drinking. He asks all sorts of questions, but you haven't been placed in custody yet. As a result, he does not have to read you your rights. Then he does arrest you, but he doesn't ask you any more questions. There is no violation of your Miranda rights for his failure to read your rights to you. The cop gained all the evidence he was going to use against you before you were arrested. He doesn't ask any questions after that. No violation.

Another common situation is the domestic assault investigation. No one is placed in custody, but people are questioned. Often times they say all sorts of stuff that implicates them in a crime. Then the officer arrests them. No rights are read. No more questions are asked. No more questions equals no Miranda violation.

When does it matter? If you are subjected to a custodial interrogation, then your rights must be read to you. Let's say the officer doesn't. What is your remedy then? It is not necessarily the dismissal of charges against you. The remedy is to keep out of evidence your statements made as a result of the custodial interrogation, and any evidence obtained as a result of that statement. That could mean the case could be thrown out, but in most situations it does not.

There you have it in a nutshell. Most of the time when you aren't read your rights, it just doesn't matter.

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