The police didn’t read me my Miranda Rights. What does that mean for my South Florida criminal case?
After an arrest in Fort Lauderdale or South Florida, a lot of clients will come in telling me that the police didn’t read them their Miranda Rights, and want to know whether or not that will help their criminal case.
The thing with Miranda Rights is that they don’t kick in right away. A constitutional right violation is certainly a big deal – if it happened. But there’s a chance there wasn’t a need for police to read you your Miranda rights.
The cops are required by law in Florida to read you your Miranda Rights before conducting a “custodial investigation.”
What does that mean? It means that you have to be in a situation where:
1) You’re not free to leave,
2) You’re being asked questions by a government agent (a cop), and
3) The questions you’re being asked would get an incriminating response out of you.
So if the cops arrest you without asking you any questions, for example, technically they don’t have to read you your Miranda Rights. And whether or not you shared incriminating information is then not related to your Miranda rights.
Police don’t have to read you your Miranda Rights before asking any questions in Florida
Here is the thing, whenever a police officer is asking you questions, it doesn’t mean that they need to read you your Miranda Rights first – as explained above, Miranda rights really only come into play during a “custodial investigation.” Even though an officer doesn’t have to read you your rights before asking any type of question, you do still ALWAYS have the right to NOT answer and to state that you’re exercising your right to remain silent.
Let’s say, for example, you’re pulled over while driving. At the time an officer pulls you over, it is usually because they had reasonable suspicion that you were violating a traffic law or some other minor infraction, or maybe even due to some sort of suspicion of DUI. When police pull you over for a stop, they do not have to read you your Miranda Rights before they ask you any questions.
It is important to note, however, that you can refuse to answer those questions because you are not in formal custody at the time you are stopped for a roadside routine traffic stop, as ruled in Berkemer v. McCarty, 468 U.S. 420 (1984).
If cops ask you questions intentionally meant to get you to incriminate yourself, such as “Have you been drinking?”, those are meant to give the officer information that you engaged in an illegal activity. You can simply say something such as “I’m not talking about my day, officer,” or even “I’m not answering any questions without an attorney present,” or you can say “I’m asserting my right to remain silent.” Remember to stay calm and be polite.
Now, of course there are times when the cops don’t read your Miranda Rights when they’re supposed to, and that’s another reason why you need an attorney. This is a constitutional violation that is huge – sometimes, police neglecting to read you your Miranda rights could be cause for your entire criminal case or allegations to be dropped.
An attorney will tell you when your rights have been violated based on the information you provide.
To learn more about Miranda rights, check out our blog to find out what Miranda Rights really protect you from, and how.
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