Miranda Rights, Confessions and Interrogations: Are my written or oral statements to the police admissible in court?
You may have seen police on TV giving “Miranda Warnings” to someone they’ve arrested. They are called Miranda warnings because they come from an important case in history: Miranda v. Arizona. The accused has a Fifth Amendment right against involuntary self-incrimination. When someone accused with a crime is in custody, the police have to give certain warnings if that person is going to be subject to an interrogation.
What are Miranda warnings?
“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 talk to a lawyer and have him present with you while you are being questioned. If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be appointed to represent you before questioning, if you wish one. If you make a statement or answer any questions, you have to right to stop at any time.”
Does my case get dismissed if I was arrested and no one ever read me my Miranda Rights?
Understandably, there is much case law on this topic that cannot be reduced to one blog article. So here’s a short answer: Possibly. Did you gave involuntary incriminating statements while being interrogated by police? Were in custody? Then there is the potential for dismissal. Exceptions apply and an attorney can help you determine whether your statements to police are admissible in court.
Miranda warnings are not required in every single case. They are not offense specific. An attorney can help you determine whether you were “in custody” at the time of the interrogation.
When are Miranda warnings are required?
Two factors must be present: a person is in custody AND law enforcement initiates questioning/ interrogation.
Some examples of being “In Custody” are:
- A person is otherwise deprived of his freedom in a significant way
- A person’s freedom of movement is the functional equivalent of a formal arrest
It is important to note that a person does not have to be at the police station to be “in custody.”
If I made statements to an undercover officer and he did not read me my Miranda Rights, can the case be dismissed?
What are some situations where a confession could be possibly be “thrown out” or not used in court even if Miranda Warnings were given?
- The confession came after an illegal arrest
- After being arrested, a person made statements while in a state of medical emergency
- A person made statements only after police promised they wouldn’t seek the death penalty
- A person made a confession after clearly stating they wished to talk to an attorney and the police ignored this request and resumed interrogation
- A person in custody and under interrogation only made statements due to police threats or coercion
Note: These are general examples and may be subject to some exceptions.
What are some situations where a confession would be admissible and Miranda warnings were given?
There is one clear situation here: A person waived their Miranda Rights and voluntarily gave a confession while in custody .
Remember that the requirements of Miranda do not apply if a suspect is simply taken into custody. They apply only if a person is in custody AND subject to police interrogation AND there is psychological coercion by the police.
What factors are considered in determining if a confession was voluntary?
A court would consider the totality of circumstances of the following factors:
- Did the police coerce a confession while the accused was in custody and being interrogated?
- How old was the accused at the time? (i.e. isolation of a minor from a parent while the minor is in custody during a police interrogation)
- Did the police interrogate the person while he was in jail? Were the police taking advantage of the person’s fears/ reaction to jail time?
- Was the person intoxicated at the time of the interrogation?
- Did the police read the accused his Miranda warnings? If so, what was the accused’s education level or mental ability?
- How long was the accused detained and interrogated by the police?
- Was the accused offered food, water, or allowed bathroom breaks?
- Does the accused understand English? Did the accused need an interpreter to fully understand what was being asked? Did they request an interpreter? If so, was an interpreter provided in a timely manner?
- Was the accused deprived of food or sleep during the interrogation while he was in custody?
If I (or anyone else) talked to the police about the case but did not give a written statement, can my talk with the police be used against me in court?
Yes. Police can use oral or written statements against you in court.
If the police lied to me while I was in custody and under interrogation, is my statement possibly admissible?
Possibly. A defense attorney can help you with any potential defenses to this type of situation, however.
The police told me they would get me a good deal on my sentence or bond hearing, but they didn’t. I made some incriminating statements while in custody and being interrogated. Is my statement possibly admissible?
Yes. Speak to an experienced defense attorney to discuss possible defense strategies.