Tag Archives: miranda warnings

#MirandaRights: A Constitutional Right, Not a Magic Bullet. #CriminalDefenseLawyer

Suspect in police interrogation room without Criminal Attorney

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.

Know Your Rights! Your Obligations in a Terry Stop #Pittsburgh #KnowYourRights

Frank Walker Law Pittsburgh Lawyer

In a recent post on police encounters, we discussed the different classifications of encounters with police ranging from a “mere encounter” to “custodial interrogation.”  The class of encounter known as a terry stop has a long history of constitutional jurisprudence on both the state and federal levels.  Due to its brief and fleeting nature, and the potential for severe repercussions, it is important that you know your rights regarding a terry stop before the situation occurs.

A terry stop, also known as a noncustodial investigatory detention, is an encounter with police not sufficiently coercive to be considered an arrest.  In order to be stopped as part of a terry stop, the police must have a reasonable suspicion that the person being questioned is involved in some form of criminal activity.  Probable cause is not necessary to perform a terry stop, it only requires reasonable suspicion.  Reasonable suspicion requires more than a mere hunch.  Taken objectively, to sustain the reasonable suspicion necessary to perform a terry stop, facts must be available to the officer that would justify a man of reasonable caution in the belief that the action taken was appropriate. Factors to be considered are tips and information, suspicious activity such as flight from the scene, and other suspicious activities. 

A terry stop may last as long as necessary to confirm or dispel an officer’s suspicion. However, without any confirming evidence that there is indeed a crime in progress, it is important to know that you are free to leave at any time. If there is no warrant or probable cause, a police officer may not legally detain you. If the officer detains you beyond the point necessary to confirm or dispel his suspicion, this can lead to a change in the classification of the encounter. What started out as a simple terry stop may become an illegal seizure of your person. Evidence and admissions seized when you are illegally detained, without a reading of your miranda warnings may be held to be inadmissible at trial.  However, knowing exactly what is constitutional and what isn’t is a thin line defined by years of constitutional jurisprudence.

If you were held against your will, or had evidence seized from a seemingly innocuous encounter and used to charge you with a crime, the road forward will be full of nuance and constitutional interpretation.  Attorney Frank Walker has years of experience helping Allegheny County residents navigate this road.  Attorney Walker been successful having evidence seized in violation of the Constitution suppressed, and many cases ultimately dismissed.  Call our office at 412-532-6805 to learn what your rights are in a criminal proceeding today!

Attorney Frank Walker of Frank Walker Law is a National Top 100 Criminal Defense Lawyer andPersonal Injury Attorney with offices in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania and Morgantown West Virginia. Attorney Walker is also a member of the National College for DUI Defense and qualified as aPennsylvania Death Penalty Defense Attorney.

If you or someone you love are facing criminal charges or seriously injured in an accident in WV orPA, contact Attorney Frank Walker immediately at 412-532-6805 24 hours a day, 7 days a weekfor aggressive and experienced Criminal Defense or Representation in a Civil Case.