Legal Question in Criminal Law in California

I was arrested Sunday night for two felonies. Throughout the entire process I was never read my miranda rights. What does this mean for my case?

Asked on 12/28/12, 3:19 pm

6 Answers from Attorneys

Joe Dane Law Office of Joe Dane

It's not like on TV or in the movies. Just being arrested doesn't mean they have to read you your rights. They are required to advise you of the Miranda rights when you're in custody (arrested) AND being questioned. Many cases involve arrests and no Miranda rights being given. If there is a Miranda violation, the remedy is to exclude any statement (and evidence obtained from that statement), but it won't necessarily invalidate the whole case. It may poke enough holes in the case where the prosecution cannot proceed, but not having your rights read doesn't automatically mean the whole case is out.

Discuss the situation fully with your attorney.

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Answered on 12/28/12, 3:29 pm

Anthony Roach Law Office of Anthony A. Roach

Not much unless you answered questions while in custody.

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Answered on 12/28/12, 3:32 pm
Edward Hoffman Law Offices of Edward A. Hoffman

Probably not much. Miranda warnings are not always necessary. Police officers are well-versed in the applicable law. When they don't give a Miranda warning it's often because there is no need for one. Of course, sometimes the officers are wrong and fail to give a warning when they should.

The lack of a Miranda warning is not a get-out-of-jail-free card. If you were questioned without counsel while you were in custody, the government may not use your answers as evidence against you. It also may not use any evidence that it found as a result of those answers unless it can show that it would have found the evidence anyway. Note that there are some exceptions to these rules; evidence that falls within one of those exceptions may be used against you even without a Miranda warning.

The government is still free to prosecute you and to use against you any evidence it obtained by other means or that falls within the exceptions I mentioned above.

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Answered on 12/28/12, 3:33 pm
Brian McGinity McGinity Law Office

Mr. Dane and Mr. Hoffman are both correct and they have provided you with excellent information. The general public's understanding of Miranda and how it effects the outcome of a criminal case is very distorted. TV and the movies rarely get it right.

Miranda rights attach once two things happen. First, someone is arrested/placed into custody and two, governmental questioning begins. If someone is not in custody (they have not been arrested) and officers ask questions and the answers to those questions lead to that person being arrested then Miranda probably was not violated. So any information offered freely before a suspect is placed into custody is free game. However, if someone is arrested and they make an incriminating statement without any questions being asked then once again Miranda probably has not been violated.

Attorneys are always arguing that although a suspect was not told he was under arrest that for all practical purposes they were arrested because they were not free to leave. As such they should have been given their Miranda rights before the officer's asked the questions.

Good luck

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Answered on 12/28/12, 5:44 pm
Terry A. Nelson Nelson & Lawless

Nothing, unless the prosecutor attempts to introduce into evidence a confession obtained after arrest but before Miranda advisement.

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Answered on 12/29/12, 2:08 pm
Edward Hoffman Law Offices of Edward A. Hoffman

Mr. Nelson's answer suggests that, without a Miranda warning, any confession made while the defendant was in custody must be excluded. That is not correct. The confession would only have to be excluded if it was given in response to questioning by the police or other authorities. (Even then, it would be admissible if one of the exceptions I mentioned in my earlier answer applies.) A confession that the defendant offers on his own would be admissible, even if the police should have given a Miranda warning but didn't.

Let me add that Mr. Nelson surely did not mean to give this impression. He's very knowledgeable about such matters. But the way he phrased his answer could lead some readers to misunderstand.

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Answered on 12/31/12, 12:17 pm

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