What happens if the police don’t read you your rights? Can charges against you be dropped? As experienced criminal defense attorneys, these are questions we hear from our clients fairly often. People hope they may be able to reduce the consequences they face because the police failed to follow procedure.
Know Your Miranda Rights
Before you understand what happens when your rights aren’t read, it’s important to know what your rights are. Commonly called your Miranda rights, these rights originate from a landmark 1966 Supreme Court case called Arizona v. Miranda. In the case, a suspect was held and questioned by the police for two hours before confessing to crimes he did not commit.
The case changed criminal procedure in the United States. The procedural changes were written down in the form of a Miranda Warning, which summarizes your Fifth and Sixth Amendment Constitutional rights. The warning has become familiar to almost everyone who has ever watched a detective show:
“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 an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you? With these rights in mind, do you wish to speak to me?”
Miranda Rights Are Only Required for Custodial Interrogation
Miranda v. Arizona changed criminal procedure by requiring the police to inform suspects of their rights. However, there are limits to this requirement. The police are only required to inform you of your rights “prior to interrogation” if your statement is to be used against you in court.
If the police were not interrogating you in custody—for example, if it was clear to you that you were free to go—then there was no requirement for them to read you your rights.
But even if you were not read your rights, those rights still exist. Even if the police don’t tell you that you can remain silent, it’s generally a good idea to exercise your right to remain silent other than to request an attorney.
A 2022 Ruling That Limits Miranda Lawsuits
Until fairly recently, some people who had their un-Mirandized statements used against them in court were able to file lawsuits under 42 U. S. C. §1983 for violation of their Constitutional rights.
In June 2022, the Supreme Court held that a violation of Miranda rights does not provide the basis for this kind of lawsuit. Still, whether you were read your rights can be an important factor in the outcome of your criminal matter. The best way to protect yourself is to talk with an attorney.
Talk With a Criminal Defense Lawyer to Protect Your Rights
If you think your rights were violated, talk to an attorney about your options. Call 817-678-6771 or send a message for a confidential consultation with the Fort Worth defense attorneys at Lee and Wood, LP.