We have all seen Miranda rights read to a suspect on television, and most of us could probably recite them verbatim. However, Miranda rights are much more complicated than they appear to be on television.
When a person has been taken into custody and is being interrogated, authorities must read the person their Miranda rights, or anything that is said by the person being interrogated may be inadmissible in Court.
A person’s Fifth Amendment right protects them from self-incrimination. This means that they are not required to make any statements or admissions that may be used against them in court. For example, in a Los Angeles DUI, if an officer asks you if you were drinking and driving, and you respond “yes”, this could be used in court as evidence against you.
The famous landmark case of Miranda v. Arizona established further requirements to help protect a person’s Fifth Amendment rights. The Courts ruled that anytime a person is in custody and is being questioned, they must be read their Miranda rights. The Miranda Rights were as follows:
- You have the right to remain silent and refuse to answer questions
- Anything you say may be used against you in a court of law
- You have the right to consult an attorney before speaking to the police and to have an attorney present during questioning now or in the future
- If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you before any questioning if you wish
- If you decide to answer questions now without an attorney present, you will still have the right to stop answering at any time until you talk to an attorney.
- Knowing and understanding your rights as I have explained them to you, are you willing to answer my questions without an attorney present?
The purpose of the Miranda rights was to protect a person from unknowingly waiving their constitutional rights.
It is very important to highlight that the Miranda rights are only required when a person is in custody AND is being interrogated. So, if a person is not in custody but is being interrogated, a reading of the Miranda rights is not necessary, or if a person is in custody but not being interrogated, it is also not necessary.
When you have been stopped for suspicion of driving under the influence, an officer will generally ask you the basic questions. These questions will include. “have you been drinking?”, “how much have you been drinking?”. These are part of a DUI investigation. Officers are gathering evidence to make a determination as to whether you have committed a criminal offense.
There is a specific distinction between a DUI investigation and an interrogation, although they are very similar. Officers will often use this distinction to questions drivers without first reading them their Miranda rights. Furthermore, they will argue that the driver is not in custody and therefore a reading of their rights is not required.
If Miranda rights are not read, and a person has made incriminating statements, where Miranda Rights should have been read, none of the statements or admissions made will be admissible. This potentially results in charges being dismissed for lack of evidence, or even reduced.
It is important to consult with a Los Angeles DUI Lawyer if you are facing DUI charges. They are able to use their knowledge and experience to assess your case and determine if there are any procedural violations made by authorities, and/or strong defenses.