ABA Looks to Enforce the Inclusion of Miranda Warnings in Other Languages in Police and Law Enforcement Policies

In the United States, citizens enjoy findamental rights, as outlined in the Constitution. The purpose of the Bill of Rights was to ensure that all citizens were aware of their fundamental rights as citizens and the role that the Government was permitted to have in their lives. Case law has helped in determining the parameters of each law, since with each fundamental right, there is a corresponding limit of that right so as to curb abuse.

If you were in a custodial interrogation, you were not given your Miranda rights, and you were coerced to sign a confession, it is important to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can advocate on your behalf. Please contact West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney William Wallshein for a confidential consultation.

The Origin of Miranda Warnings

One of these important fundamental rights stems from Miranda v. Arizona, decided in 1966, which dictated that police officers are required to inform any suspects o the following:

  • They are in a custodial interrogation and
  • They have the right to remain silent,
  • Any statements put forth by the suspect can be used in a court of law as evidence,
  • They have the right to have counsel present during any interrogation with the police, and
  • If they cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed by the court.

Purpose of Miranda Warnings

In most crime shows, Miranda warnings are spoken by police officers to a suspect at the moment that the suspect has been arrested, though Miranda warnings deal specifically with the moment that a suspect is placed in custodial interrogation. The warnings provide a signal to the suspect that he or she is not free to go and that he or she is in custody of the police, and they help police officers capture any statements made during the arrest as part of the evidentiary record for future interrogations or future criminal proceedings.

Suspect Has Right to Waive Miranda Rights

Miranda warnings do not prevent a suspect from speaking if he or she would like to discuss the specifics of the case. Though it is ill-advised, many suspects decide not to remain silent or ask for an attorney and would rather speak with detectives and police officials. To do so, the suspect must sign a consent to waive these Miranda rights, stating that he or she is waiving his or her rights to an attorney and is willing to freely discuss the facts of the case with the police official with full knowledge, intelligence, and is without coercion or duress from officers to waive these rights.

Waiver of Miranda Rights Must Not Be Coercive

It can be difficult to determine that the suspect has sufficient knowledge and intelligence in an informed consent waiver when the individual is young (a minor has additional safeguards before waiving his or her rights), when the individual has a developmental mental, emotional, or physical disability, and when the individual is not from the United States, with a limited grasp of English.

Push by ABA to Include Miranda Warnings in Several Languages

The American Bar Association has introduced a new bill that would require all federal, state, and local police officials be educated in providing Miranda rights in the language that the suspect understands to ensure that he or she is knowingly and intelligently making decisions that could affect his or her criminal proceeding outcome and the admissibility of any evidence uncovered during the custodial interrogation. However, just translating the Miranda warnings may not be enough.

Miranda Warnings for Non-English Speakers in Florida

In several Florida Supreme Court cases, alienage was addressed as a possible reason that a person would not be able to waive his/her Miranda rights during interrogation. Largely these cases tackled not only the fact that the person may not speak English and may not fully understand the situation at the time, but also that the person may come from a country with different legal procedures and not know what rights he or she actually has. Including more education and training to police officers as well as expanding on the demographics of the police force to include multilingual/multicultural officers may help with the problem, beyond just pure translation.

Please contact West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney William Wallshein for a confidential consultation.