Since the landmark 1966 case Miranda v. Arizona, Miranda warnings have been critical in protecting Americans’ constitutionally granted rights during interrogations with law enforcement. Also referred to as Miranda rights, these laws protect citizens in several ways:
- Protection From Self-Incrimination: Under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, no person shall be compelled to be a witness against themselves. The Miranda warning affirms these rights and ensures the individual is aware of them. Having been informed of their rights under the Fifth Amendment, the individual now makes any statements voluntarily, rather than through coercion, helping to determine whether statements are admissible or not in court.
- Right to Legal Representation: The Miranda warning also serves to notify the individual of their rights to an attorney during questioning and during a trial, as guaranteed under the Sixth Amendment. This protects them from being compelled to confess during coercive interrogation, one of the main reasons the Miranda warning was devised.
In addition to ensuring that individuals are aware of their rights during interactions with law enforcement, it also gives law enforcement a concise standard to follow. This creates clarity in protocol, as well as sets consequences for failure to provide these warnings.
The same court decision that led to the creation of the Miranda warning also outlines two requirements under which law enforcement is required to read these rights. The first is that the individual must be in custody. This does not need to be a formal arrest, rather a custodial situation can arise in any case where the individual feels that they are not free to leave of their own accord. The second requirement is that the individual is under interrogation. This can be a matter of law enforcement asking questions or simply creating a situation they hope will provide an incriminating response.
The Warning: Line by Line
We’ve all heard the Miranda warning read in movies and TV shows, but it can be helpful to analyze the wording of the warning to gain a full understanding of the full scope of protections it provides.
You Have the Right to Remain Silent: No matter what questions law enforcement asks, or what they might say, the individual is under no obligation to respond. This ensures that, in answering what may seem like an innocent question, the individual doesn’t inadvertently incriminate themself.
Anything You Say Can and Will Be Used Against You in Court: This second line reveals what makes the first line so important. By remaining silent, the individual provides law enforcement with no verbal evidence against them, which is crucial as every word can potentially be entered as evidence.
You Have the Right to An Attorney: As stated in the Sixth Amendment, every citizen of the United States has the right to legal representation and assistance at any point before and during police interrogation. It’s important to retain legal representation not only because it is a constitutionally protected right, but also because it could help avoid further legal repercussions.
If You Cannot Afford an Attorney, One Wil Be Provided for You: This is a pretty straightforward reminder that public defenders are available for those who lack the financial means to hire representation.
Miranda Warning in Georgia
The state of Georgia follows most of the same rules and regulations surrounding the Miranda warning as other states. These are some specifics regarding Miranda that everyone should know:
- A Miranda warning will not typically be read during a routine traffic stop, as the individual is not going to be formally taken into custody.
- Statements made by a person in police custody who is under interrogation without having been read their Miranda rights can be rendered inadmissible in court.
- Failure on the part of law enforcement to read a Miranda warning during an arrest does not automatically nullify the arrest or charges. It merely impacts how statements made during custodial interrogation can be admitted in court.
What Happens if Law Enforcement Doesn’t Read the Miranda Warning?
During a custodial interrogation or an arrest, if law enforcement fails to inform the suspect of their Miranda rights there can be several implications for the subsequent criminal case, including:
Rendering Statements Inadmissible: Any statements made by the suspect during interrogation – even a confession – can be deemed inadmissible, meaning that the prosecution cannot use them during the trial.
Causing a Dismissal: A case is not automatically dismissed just because the Miranda warning was not properly read at the time of the arrest. That said, if that failure leads to key piece of evidence being rendered inadmissible, leaving the prosecution without sufficient evidence to go forward with the case, the case could be dismissed.
Suppression of Further Evidence: If statements made in violation of the suspect’s Miranda rights lead law enforcement to obtain other evidence, that secondary evidence can also be suppressed in court under the “Fruit of the Poisonous Tree” Doctrine.
Stronger Leverage for a Plea Deal: If statements collected in violation of Miranda rights are thrown out, this gives the defense a much greater ability to negotiate a plea deal for reduced charges.
Once a person has invoked their Miranda rights, either by requesting an attorney be present or vocalizing their wish to remain silent, all questioning by law enforcement needs to cease immediately. Furthermore, any statements made once those rights have been invoked without an attorney present can be challenged in court.
Creating a Defense After a Miranda Rights Violation
Even in cases where a suspect’s Miranda rights were not violated, it is still possible to get charges reduced or dismissed by challenging the evidence presented by the prosecution. This could be a matter of presenting contradictory evidence, exculpatory witnesses or identifying other violations of constitutional rights.
However, if the suspect does believe that their Miranda rights were violated, they now have a powerful tool in challenging the admissibility of any statements they may have made. This process generally goes as follows:
Determining Custody and Interrogation: As the Miranda warning is required when an individual is both in custody and under interrogation, the court will need to determine when both of those conditions were met.
Filing a Motion to Suppress: This is performed by the defense attorney, who will argue that statements collected by law enforcement should be suppressed as evidence in the trial. Once this motion has been filed, the burden of proof falls to the prosecution, meaning that they would need to show that the defendant was made aware of their rights, but chose to waive them knowingly, voluntarily and intelligently.
If the court finds that the defendant’s Miranda rights were violated, they can suppress any statements collected in violation of those rights.
The Busbee Law Group Difference
If you believe your Miranda rights were violated, a skilled attorney can work quickly to have evidence rendered inadmissible and help get your charges lowered or dismissed. At Busbee Law Group, we stand up to law enforcement overreach, and stop at nothing to track down every bit of evidence that could help your case.
During discovery we access everything from bodycam footage to dashcam recordings, analyzing every bit of evidence to challenge the prosecution’s’ case against you. This exhaustive preparation is crucial in highlighting any violations of your rights that may erode the justification for your arrest and create a stronger argument for your freedom. Informed by this in-depth investigation, we walk into court knowing more about you case than the prosecution or the arresting officer, giving us the edge in creating a favorable outcome.
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