If the police did not read your Miranda rights to you before your arrest, can we get your case dismissed?
The answer is maybe… but probably not.
All our lives, we’ve seen TV cops read Miranda rights to people they are about to arrest, which explains why so many people believe police are required to read those rights to a suspect before arresting them.
That’s not actually how it works, though…
Below, we will discuss the basics of Miranda rights and how they work, including:
- What happens when police do not read your rights to you before arresting you,
- What happens when police do not read your rights to you before questioning you, and
- The difference between Miranda rights and coerced confessions in violation of the 14th Amendment Due Process Clause.
If Police Didn’t Read My Miranda Rights, Can I Get My Case Dismissed?
If the police did not read your rights to you when you were arrested, that is probably not grounds for dismissal of your case. Most police officers do not read Miranda rights to suspects when they arrest them. The Miranda requirement isn’t about the arrest – it’s about interrogation.
The reason for the rule, announced in Miranda v. Arizona in 1966, was to prevent coercive interrogation tactics by police by requiring law enforcement to inform a person of 1) their right against self-incrimination and 2) their right to an attorney before questioning.
What is the Remedy if Police Don’t Read Your Rights to You?
If the police did not read your Miranda rights to you before arrest, that is not grounds for dismissal of your case. There is no remedy because police are not required to read Miranda rights to you before arrest.
If police question you while you are in custody, however, they must first read your Miranda rights to you. In most cases, they will go over these rights on a form and have you initial each right before signing at the bottom of the page – to prove in court that you waived your rights before answering their questions and incriminating yourself.
If the police do not read Miranda rights to you before questioning while you are in custody, the remedy is the exclusion of any statements that you made in response to their questions. While this is not as dramatic as a dismissal of your case, it can be critical in many trials.
Suppression of an incriminating statement can make the difference between a guilty verdict or an acquittal, or, if the statement is key to the State’s case, it could result in dismissal or a more reasonable plea offer by the prosecutor.
Except in DUIs…
DUIs are different. If police do not read Miranda rights during a DUI arrest in SC, the remedy is dismissal.
SC Code § 56-5-2953 requires police to videotape the traffic stop and the suspect’s conduct in the breathalyzer room, and one of the requirements in the law is that the video from the roadside must show the officer reading Miranda rights to the suspect.
If the officer does not read Miranda rights on the video (or if the other videotape requirements are not met), your case should be dismissed before trial.
What’s the Difference Between Miranda Rights and 14th Amendment Due Process Rights?
Miranda’s requirements are intended to protect your Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and your Sixth Amendment right to counsel.
There are variations, and the language does not have to be exact, but it must include some version of each of the rights you have heard in movies and TV shows:
- 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, and
- If you cannot afford an attorney, the court will appoint one for you.
In Response to Questioning
If the police aren’t questioning you, they don’t have to read your Miranda rights to you.
This means that, if you volunteer information or just start talking to the police or jail staff, there is no Miranda requirement, and your statements will most likely be admissible against you. Do not talk to the police or anyone until you have met with your defense attorney.
You must also be in custody when the police question you.
- If police knock on your door and start asking questions (a “knock and talk”), they are probably not required to read Miranda rights to you, and you probably will not be able to get your statements suppressed at trial.
- If you are in jail, and an investigator pulls you out to the conference room for a chat, they are probably required to read Miranda rights to you, and you probably will be able to get your statements suppressed at trial if they don’t.
- If you are on the roadside about to be arrested, but you haven’t been placed under arrest yet, whether police are required to read Miranda rights to you will depend on the facts of the case. Note that the courts have held that police do not need to Mirandize a person if they are in “investigative detention” as opposed to “under arrest.”
Coerced Statements – 14th Amendment Due Process Rights
Separate from your Miranda rights, a coerced confession violates the 14 Amendment Due Process Clause.
Even if police read your rights to you, your statements can be suppressed if your “will was overborne” by coercive tactics. Even if police were not required to read your rights to you because you were not in custody, your statements can be suppressed if they were involuntary.
Criminal Defense Lawyers in Columbia, SC and Myrtle Beach, SC
The criminal defense attorneys at the Thompson & Hiller Defense Firm focus exclusively on criminal defense cases in SC. We have obtained dismissals, pre-trial diversion resulting in dismissals, or acquittals following trial in hundreds of criminal cases, and we have a record of proven results.
If you have been charged with a crime in SC or if you think you may be under investigation, call us now at 843-444-6122 or contact us through our website for a free initial consultation to find out if we can help.