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Miranda Rights

Miranda Rights Violations in California

As United States citizens, we have constitutional rights that play a pivotal role in safeguarding us when interacting with law enforcement and the criminal justice system. These rights, known as Miranda rights, are not just legal jargon but a crucial shield for individuals, established and upheld by the US Supreme Court in Miranda v. Arizona. 384 U.S. 436 (1966).

Many people know about the infamous phrase "read your rights" from movies and popular TV shows but may not know exactly what these rights mean.

Miranda Rights Violations in California
A Miranda rights violation occurs when you are arrested, and they ask incriminating questions.

Suppose you were taken into custody in California and interrogated by the police. In that case, they must first read your Miranda rights, which says, "You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in court. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you? Do you wish to speak to me with these rights in mind?"

Reading your Miranda rights is also known as a "Miranda warning" because the police are "warning" you of your constitutional rights. These rights include the right to remain silent because anything you say can be used against you in court. You also have the right to a lawyer, even if you cannot afford the services of a private attorney.

These rights, derived from the 5th and 6th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, exist to ensure equal protection under the law. Notably, a violation of Miranda rights can have significant implications, potentially leading to suppressing any incriminating evidence against you, provided that evidence was obtained from the breach.

Understanding this can be a crucial part of your defense, potentially leading to the dismissal of charges in certain California criminal cases.

Miranda warnings apply when someone is in police custody for any alleged criminal activity or offense, such as drug crimes, sex crimes, violent crimes, white-collar offenses, domestic violence, and theft crimes.

Miranda Rights - Quick Facts

  • Miranda rights are a statement of your rights that law enforcement must explain before questioning or interrogating.
  • Police only have to read a Miranda warning if they decide to ask you possible incriminating questions after detaining or arresting you.
  • Many people believe these rights must always be read rights when arrested, but this is a common myth.
  • You have the right to remain silent and refuse to answer any questions, even if the police don't tell you.
  • Law enforcement must explain these rights and make sure you understand them before any interrogation after an arrest.
  • The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution allows you not to make any statements that could incriminate you.
  • The Sixth Amendment guarantees certain rights, like the right to a lawyer after being accused of a crime.
  • If police fail to read your rights before questioning starts, your answers might be considered objectionable in court and can't be used against you.
  • Miranda rights are also guaranteed at the federal level and apply when you are detained and questioned by any federal law enforcement agents.

What are the Exceptions?

In some situations, the police are not required to read a person the Miranda warnings, such as the following:

  • Asking standard questions, such as your name and address.
  • Asking questions for the purpose of public safety.
  • Stopping you for an alleged traffic violation.
  • Using informants to elicit information from you.

For example, suppose police ask you questions about public safety and then discover any evidence of alleged criminal activity. In that case, it can be admitted as evidence against the alleged offender.

How Can You Determine If Your Rights Were Violated?

You always have the right against self-incrimination and to have a lawyer. Miranda requires that people be informed of these rights when detained, taken into police custody, and subjected to interrogation.

The term "custody" means a reasonable person would think they were in custody if they were in the same situation. If you are held against your will, you have been taken into custody. The term "subjected to interrogation" means the police ask questions to elicit incriminating statements.

Police can violate your Miranda rights in many ways other than just failing to read your rights, such as the following:

  • If the police refuse to let a lawyer present during questioning, they violate your Miranda rights.
  • Police can't use coercion or manipulative tactics, such as forcing a confession out of you.

If police violate your rights, not only are your statements inadmissible in court, but the judge might dismiss the case entirely due to the breach of your federal rights.

What is a Waiver of Rights?

It is typically not advisable to talk to the police without the presence of an attorney. However, some people want to talk and will waive their Miranda rights.

Waive Miranda Rights

Notably, if a police officer delivers a Miranda warning but you continue to talk, that information can be used against you as evidence in court. Also, remember, police do not have to read your rights if they don't question you.

They can ask you any questions if you're not actually under arrest. After they read your rights, they will usually ask if you clearly understand the rights I just explained. Then, they will ask if you want to waive your rights and answer their questions.

If you agree, you have just waived your Miranda rights and invoked the right to remain silent. Sometimes, you may be asked to sign a written waiver acknowledging that you have waived your rights.

If police use the information from unlawful questioning against you in court, your attorney will file a motion to suppress this evidence, which could lead to a case dismissal.

Can You Still Be Convicted?

Yes. Suppose the police did not read the Miranda warning. In that case, it does not invalidate the arrest; instead, it only means the answers you gave them during questioning, so they can't be used to prove your guilt in court.

You can still be charged and convicted of a crime because the district attorney might have other evidence to prove guilt and don't need your statements made to the police.

Notably, however, suppose the only evidence is from an unlawful interrogation. In that case, the evidence is inadmissible, and the judge will generally dismiss the case.

Simply put, Miranda violations are not necessarily sufficient grounds for dismissing criminal charges against you, but statements, such as a confession, can't be used against you. Contact our law firm if your Miranda rights might have been violated.

If you were taken into custody and interrogated about a crime without being "Mirandized," any evidence provided during that interrogation may be excluded from court. Cron, Israels & Stark LLP is in Los Angeles, California. We offer a free case evaluation.

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