What are my options if police do not read me my Miranda Rights?
The legal term “Miranda Rights” is one that almost everyone in the country is familiar with. These rights are so well known that even cop dramas and sitcoms that use enforcement officers will often make sure the characters playing enforcement officers read the suspect his or her Miranda Rights during an arrest. Legally, as long as an officer gives these rights prior to interrogation the officer has generally met his or her duty.
What exactly are my Miranda Rights?
In general, Miranda Rights give the individual facing criminal charges the right to remain silent, a heads up that the officer can use anything said against us in court, a reminder that we can call an attorney at any time and will also let us know that the state will provide legal counsel if we cannot afford it.
What happens if police ask questions before giving me my Miranda Rights?
Once in custody, police must give the Miranda Rights before they can move forward with questioning. A failure to do so generally means the court will not allow any information gathered from those questions into court.
What are my legal remedies in this type of situation?
There are two general remedies. First, as noted above, the court will not consider any evidence gathered from information gained without reading Miranda Rights. This can mean the state will drop the charges. A common example involves the police arresting an individual and asking if he committed a robbery. He admits and tells them where to find the money. Based on this information, the police go to the location he provided and find the money.
However, if the police did not give the man in this example his Miranda Rights, they cannot use the admission or the evidence of the money. This is because they found the money as a direct result of the unlawful admission.
The second potential remedy involves compensation for these allegations. The law provides for the ability of a victim to get monetary compensation from law enforcement if officers fail to provide Miranda Rights. In the example above, the man could try to get compensation for any missed work, the cost of defending his case and any other bills that result from the charges.
A current case is questioning the breadth of this law. It involves a man who was accused of sexual assault. Police approached the man at a hospital where he worked and asked about allegations of sexual assault. The man confessed and police admitted this confession as evidence in trial. He was acquitted because the police never provided his Miranda Rights.
The man is now holding the police officers civilly liable for the financial impact of the case. Thus far, the courts have agreed with him. The law enforcement officers involved have requested intervention by the Supreme Court, arguing that the law does not allow for holding individual officers liable. The Supreme Court has not yet stated whether it will review the case or allow it to stand.
Either way, the main take away for those facing allegations of sexual assault or other criminal activity is the importance of proper police procedure during the investigation. A failure to follow the expected protocol can result not only in a reduction or dismissal of charges but also financial compensation for the strain caused by the allegations.