Most people, despite never having been arrested, are familiar with the list of rights known as Miranda Rights. These rights include the right to remain silent, the right to have an attorney present during questioning, the right to have a court-appointed attorney if you can not afford one, and the warning that anything you say can be used against you in court. People are usually familiar with these rights because they can recall some rendition of them from a tv show or movie. And in those movies where the defendant was not read their Miranda Rights, once the lawyer brings that up in court * poof * like magic the case disappears.
But of course its nowhere near that simple. I have had clients come into my office and ask “why, if the cops failed to read me my rights, isn’t the DUI, Underage Drinking or Assault case dismissed?” First, you have to understand when Miranda warnings are required, and what happens when those rules aren’t followed. Miranda warnings are required prior to what is known as a custodial interrogation. Being in custody pivots on the question of whether you were free to leave the scene, or whether you were being detained. And the question of whether you are being interrogated depends on whether you are being asked questions designed to elicit an incriminating response.
If the government violates your rights under Miranda, the statements obtained from you may not be used in court against you. This doesn’t mean the case goes away automatically, as the government may still proceed on other evidence they may have against you. Violation of Miranda usually only proves fatal to the government’s case when your confession is the only evidence they have against you. Statements of witnesses to the crime, video tape, and other evidence may still be used to pursue a case against you.
The analysis of whether a confession or incriminating statement was made in violation of your rights can be a complicated one. For example, Miranda does not apply to statements given outside of custody, which is why many times the police may try to classify interactions as mere encounters. Also, Miranda does not apply to voluntary statements given freely by the defendant that were not done in response to officer questioning. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are far more exceptions, rules, and nuances to these cases than can be discussed in one blog post.
That’s why its important if you’ve been arrested that you ask to consult with a lawyer as soon as possible, prior to giving any statements to police. Call Attorney Frank Walker. The phone lines at the law offices of Frank Walker are open twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year.
The decisions you make about what to say and who to say it to may define the rest of your life, so make sure they’re made to someone you can trust. Attorney Frank Walker has been serving the citizens of Pittsburgh, PA, and Morgantown WV for years. Check out FrankWalker.com for more information. Pittsburgh residents can call 412-532-6805 to set up a consultation, and the number for our Morgantown callers is (304) 712-2089.
About Frank Walker Law
Attorney Frank Walker of Frank Walker Law is a National Top 100 Criminal Defense Lawyer, and Personal Injury Attorney who has been recognized as a Super Lawyer, Best Attorneys in America and a Top AVVO Rated attorney, with offices in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania and Morgantown West Virginia.
If you or someone you love are facing criminal charges or seriously injured in an accident, contact Attorney Frank Walker immediately at 412-532-6805, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for aggressive and experienced Criminal Defense or Representation in a Civil Case.