"The Police Didn't Read Me My Rights - Will My Case Be Thrown Out?"

Posted By Shepard Law || 12-Oct-2012

You have seen it dozens of times on TV and in movies – when a suspect is arrested, they are read their Miranda Rights. But what happens when a law enforcement officer makes an arrest and does not read the accused their Miranda Rights?

"Is the Arresting Officer Required to Read Me My Miranda Rights?"

Law enforcement officers are only required to advise a suspect of their Miranda Rights when they are conducting a "custodial interrogation".

"What Is a Custodial Interrogation?"

A "custodial interrogation" occurs when:

  1. The suspect being questioned is in the custody of law enforcement, and:
  2. The questions are intended to elicit an incriminating statement that can be later be used as evidence against the suspect in court.

"What Happens When Police Conduct a Custodial Interrogation Without Miranda Warnings?"

In most cases, statements gained from the in-custody questioning of a suspect who has not been advised of Miranda Warnings cannot be used in court. The issue of which statements may and may not be used against the accused can be challenged by filing a Motion to Suppress. Ultimately the determination regarding the admissibility of the accused statements is a fact specific determination made by the presiding judge pursuant to a Motion to Suppress.

"Who Decides if I Am In-Custody?"

The determination regarding a statement being suppressed often comes down to whether or not the suspect was "in custody" at the time the statement was made. Whether a person is "in custody" is a fact specific inquiry that can only be determined on a case-by-case basis by a judge. As a general rule, "[i]n order for a court to conclude that a suspect was in custody, it must be evident that, under the totality of the circumstances, a reasonable person in the suspect's position would feel a restraint of his or her freedom of movement, fairly characterized, so that the suspect would not feel free to leave or to terminate the encounter with police." See Voorhees v. State, 699 So. 2d 602, 608 (Fla. 1991)(emphasis added)( (citing Florida v. Bostick, 501 U.S. 429, 439 (1991)).

"So if I Am Not In-Custody At the Time the Statement Was Made, Then What?"

Miranda Warnings are only required when a person is in custody. Law enforcement officers are not required to give Miranda Warnings when questioning a person not in custody. This type of citizen-law enforcement officer interaction is considered a "consensual encounter". As a general rule, statements made in a consensual encounter may be used in court unless otherwise ruled inadmissible by a judge.

There are many legal and factual issues a "person of interest" in a criminal investigation should consider prior to giving a statement to law enforcement. If you are wanted for questioning, or have been accused of a crime in the Panama City area call Shepard Law's 24/7 hotline at (850) 215-5200 for a free consultation.