Most of us are familiar with so-called “Miranda Warnings” from countless courtroom dramas and police shows. Miranda warnings or Miranda rights are intended to let people know they have the right to remain silent when they are taken into police custody.
“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to have an attorney present during questioning. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Do you understand?”
Unfortunately, many people have a misconception about Miranda warnings and when the warning is required. If the police do not read you your Miranda rights during an arrest, it does not necessarily mean that your charges will be dropped. Miranda rights only apply to custodial interrogation by police.
If you were arrested and want to know about your criminal rights in California, contact Gorelick Law Offices for a free consultation.
What Are Your Miranda Rights in California?
The term “Miranda rights” comes from the Supreme Court case of Miranda v. Arizona (1966)(1966). In that case, Ernesto Miranda was arrested and taken into police custody where he was interrogated for two hours without a lawyer present and without being told that he had the right to a lawyer. Miranda signed a written confession and, after a trial, was convicted.
In the Supreme Court case, the Court found that the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination is intended to protect persons from being compelled to incriminate themselves. The prosecution cannot use statements stemming from a custodial interrogation unless there are procedural safeguards in place. Therefore, a defendant must be warned before questioning that he or she has:
- The right to remain silent;
- Anything the defendant says can be used against them in court;
- The right to the presence of an attorney; and
- If the defendant cannot afford an attorney one will be appointed prior to questioning.
The police didn't read me my Miranda rights when I was arrested. Will my case be dismissed?
An arrest does not necessarily mean the police have to give someone Miranda warnings. Miranda warnings are required for custodial interrogation. This means the police have to read Miranda rights when the individual is:
- Under police custody; AND
- Being interrogated.
Before the individual is in police custody, the police can generally ask questions even if the answers may incriminate the individual. This may occur at a traffic stop or if police briefly stop someone on the street to ask a question. When an individual is arrested or put in a police car, then they are generally considered in police custody.
Even if the person is in police custody, they may not have to have their Miranda warnings unless or until the police begin questioning the suspect. This means the police could arrest someone and not read the Miranda warnings for hours or even longer after the arrest. However, before the police begin asking the suspect questions that could be incriminating, the police have to give the Miranda warning.
DUI Arrest in California and Miranda Warnings
One of the most common questions drivers in California ask is about Miranda warnings and DUI arrests. The police may or may not give an individual their Miranda warnings when arresting them for driving under the influence of alcohol or driving under the influence of drugs in California.
When police arrest someone for drunk driving, they may have enough evidence to justify an arrest without having to interrogate the suspect. If there is no custodial interrogation, then Miranda warnings may not be necessary. Police may not need to read someone Miranda rights during a traffic stop, even if the police are asking you to submit to a preliminary breath test or field sobriety test.
Once you are in police custody and the police are asking questions that could be incriminating, the police are required to give a Miranda warning. However, the police and CHP do not always play by the rules. If you have any questions about whether something the police did was a violation of your constitutional rights, talk to your California DUI lawyer about what that might mean for your case.
Should I Waive My Miranda Rights?
After the police read a suspect the Miranda warning, the police may question the suspect. By reading their Miranda rights, if the suspect continues to talk to police, he or she may have waived the right to have an attorney present for questioning. However, you should be very careful before you decide to talk to police without a lawyer present.
When the police question a suspect, they may be looking for specific information or try and get the suspect to make or agree to certain statements. A lot of people think that because they haven't done anything wrong, they have no reason not to talk to the cops. However, even an innocent person can say something that is taken out of context and is later used against them to put them behind bars.
You can claim your right to have a lawyer at any time during questioning. Just because you started talking to police does not mean you have given up your rights to a lawyer. At any time you can tell the police you do not want to say anything until you have talked to your lawyer. The police should stop questioning you and wait until you have had a chance to talk to your attorney.
Will a Lawyer Be Provided?
Another misconception involving Miranda rights is that people expect a lawyer will be provided by the police or prosecutor. However, a lawyer will only be appointed if you cannot afford one. This generally requires a showing of financial hardship or limited resources and may have to be approved by the court. Just because you don't have a lot of money does not mean that the state will provide a lawyer.
Many people arrested in the East Bay are responsible for finding their own attorney and will not be provided a public defender. Anyone arrested on charges of a crime should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who understands the penalties involved and will fight for their client's rights.
Your Rights Against Self-Incrimination and Right to a Lawyer in California Criminal Cases
Lynn Gorelick has more than 30 years of criminal defense experience defending her clients in the East Bay. Suspects have the right to an attorney present during questioning and you should make sure you have someone on your side before talking to law enforcement. If you or a family member was arrested in Alameda or Contra Costa County, contact Gorelick Law Offices today.