Miranda Rights in Florida

Aug 12, 2015

Anyone who is arrested in the United States has Miranda rights. This means that they must be advised of their Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights against self-incrimination and to have legal counsel available at the time of questioning.

The Miranda Warning

The term originated in 1966 U.S. Supreme Court case, Miranda v. Arizona. The court in that case held that if a person is taken into police custody, he or she must be given a Miranda warning, and advised of his or her rights. The Miranda warning must include:

  • You have the right to remain silent;
  • Anything you say can later be used against you in a court of law;
  • You have the right to an attorney, and to have your attorney present while you are being questioned;
  • If you cannot afford one, an attorney will be appointed for you, at no cost, if you wish;
  • You can choose, at any time, to exercise these rights and not answer any questions or make any statements.

Then, the officer must ask if the suspect if he or she understands these rights.

If a suspect asks for an attorney, all questioning must stop until the attorney arrives. Then, the suspect and the attorney must be given time to speak with each other. Lastly, the attorney must be present during any further questioning of the suspect.

Arrest

Whether a person is under arrest can sometimes be confusing. Arrest means that the suspect is in police custody and that a reasonable person would not feel free to leave. When that point is reached, the officer must read the Miranda rights before questioning.

However, police can question a suspect before arresting him or her, and not give the Miranda warnings. But they must inform the suspect that the questioning is voluntary, and that he or she can leave at any time. Also, police can arrest a suspect without reading the Miranda rights, but only if the police do not question the suspect. Questioning, for Miranda purposes, does not include routine things, such as name and address to establish identity.

Many people do not realize that they have the right to an attorney before trial preparation is underway. The right begins before any questioning or interrogation. It does not just mean that the defendant has the right to an attorney in the courtroom.

Affirmative Invocation

To take full advantage of the protections of Miranda, a suspect must affirmatively invoke the right to remain silent—avoiding answering questions is not good enough. This is because the Fifth Amendment only protects silence for the purpose of avoiding self-incrimination. If a suspect does not state the reason that he or she is being silent, the silence is ambiguous, and that silence can be used as evidence to make the suspect seem guilty to a jury.

No Miranda Warnings

Though the failure to read Miranda rights is a violation of the constitution, it does not necessarily mean that a case will be dismissed. If a law enforcement officer fails to properly deliver the Miranda warnings to a person in custody, then statements the individual makes without the proper notice may be inadmissible. This means that they cannot be used as evidence. So if the case is mainly based on those statements, then the charges may be dropped.

If you have been arrested and questioned without being read your Miranda rights, it is important to contact an attorney right away to ensure that no inadmissible evidence is used against you. Please contact the dedicated West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney William Wallshein for a free consultation.