Interviewer: How often do you see clients that just say, “My case should be thrown out because the police never read me my Miranda rights. They never Mirandized me.” What do you say to that, and how does Miranda actually work in cases?
Court: I would say Miranda can be useful. It’s become such a common thing in the media, and it’s such a big deal with police officers in their training that it does happen that sometimes Miranda rights don’t get read to you for some reason. But 99.9% of the time, the officer is going to give you Miranda rights.
Miranda Rights Protect What Statements You Make after You Are Arrested
The other thing about Miranda rights is what they protect is statements that you make after you’re arrested. So, let’s say you get pulled over for speeding, and the officer walks up to you and you’re trying to talk yourself out of a ticket. You say, “I only had two beers, and that was four hours ago” or something like that. That statement is voluntarily made by you during a non-custodial interrogation, where you’re not under arrest, and you’re not being investigated necessarily. That’s going to be admissible in court. That statement is going to be admissible whether or not the officer reads you your Miranda rights. It is admissible because you’re not arrested, and you’re not in custody at the time.
How Your Attorney Might Argue That Your Miranda Rights Were Violated During a DUI Arrest
However, that same statement made later on after you’re in handcuffs and the back of a police car, might not be able to be used that in court if they don’t give you Miranda rights. When it comes to arguing your Miranda rights in court, the defense attorney will point out that you were actually arrested at a time long before your Miranda rights were read.
Any Statements You Make During and After an Arrest but Before You Hear Your Miranda Rights Can Later Be Suppressed and Not Used as Evidence Against You
Sometimes in DUI cases, for instance, a subject will be arrested, handcuffed, placed in the back of the car. They might be asked to take a breath test and go through that whole rigmarole. Their Miranda rights won’t actually be read until they actually take the breath test at the station, which is possibly 10 or 15 minutes later. Well, during that period where they’ve been under arrest but they haven’t been read their Miranda rights, anything that somebody says during that time period can get suppressed.
So, if you’re driving to the station, and you start talking to the officer and you’re being honest and frank about, “Well, I had this many beers.” “I didn’t think that I was too impaired to drive.” Those are statements that the officer is going to put in his report.
When you’re sitting in the back of the car and you’re saying, “Well, I just had two beers, and I didn’t feel too drunk. It was hours ago.” Well, what that becomes in court is a nightmare. You’re basically admitting that you were drinking, and it’s really difficult to convince a jury that you weren’t impaired after that.
But if that’s said without having been read your Miranda rights, then that evidence can be suppressed. Because anything that you say in custody without having been given those warnings; they won’t be able to use that as evidence. So, the bottom line is, with Miranda, a lot of times it can come into play, but it’s not as useful as everybody thinks.
Interviewer: This isn’t as an important factor for people as they think that it is?
In Truth, Miranda Violations Do Not Occur with Great Frequency
Court: I think because it’s so common, almost everybody can say at least half of the actual Miranda wording. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You are familiar Just because you see it on TV and in Hollywood so much. It’s easy for movies and TV shows to make a big deal of things like that, and say, “Well, this proceeding was wrong because he wasn’t given his Miranda rights.”
Proving Violations of Your Fourth Amendment Rights Is Usually More Successful in Court
So, it becomes this perception that the police have to do that, and if they don’t do that, then it’s just this horrible thing that they’ve failed on. And it is a failure, but it’s not going to win your case. What’s definitely more useful is a violation of a Fourth Amendment, which is the unreasonable search and seizure. Because when that happens, any evidence that they gain after that unreasonable search is thrown out of court. They can’t use that evidence against you.
So, if the whole underlying reason for them stopping you and investigating you for driving under the influence was a violation of your right against unreasonable search and seizure, then they don’t have any evidence at all. The whole case is thrown out. So it’s a lot more serious than a Miranda violation.
Miranda Is Part of Your Fifth Amendment Rights
By the way, Miranda is under the Fifth Amendment. That’s the right against self-incrimination. So they have to warn you that when you say things that those things can be used against you. That’s the Fifth Amendment. And then the Fourth Amendment is your right against unreasonable seizure and search. So there are two different constitutional rights that you have. In general, the right that protects you against search and seizure just ends up being a lot more effective when it comes to the defense of DUIs.