Miranda Rights – Police Don’t Have To Read You Your Rights When Arresting You

Miranda Rights

Police officers are not required to read you your Miranda rights, even if they arrest you. The only reason the police read you the Miranda Warning is when they want to question you in police custody and use your testimony against you in court.

What Does “Miranda Rights” Mean?

When a police officer reads you your Miranda rights, it means they are reciting the “Miranda Warning,” named after a 1966 Supreme Court case called Miranda v. Arizona. The Miranda court case says that a suspect has the right to remain silent while police are questioning them, so as not to incriminate themselves. The most common wording of the Miranda Warning is as follows:

“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to speak to an attorney, and to have an attorney present during any questioning. If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be provided for you at government expense.”

This means suspects who are in police custody don’t have to answer the police officer’s questions. If you ask for a lawyer at any time during police interrogation, the police officer is required to stop questioning you.

Be clear about what you are asking for — say “I want a lawyer” NOT “Do I need a lawyer?” or “It sounds like I might need a lawyer.”

Evidence Can Be Suppressed If Police Question You Without Reading You Your Miranda Rights

If police ignore your request for a lawyer and keep questioning you, or if they fail to read the Miranda Warning to you before questioning you, they can not use your testimony against you in court. And any evidence they discover as a result of the questioning would not be admissible in court.

Keep in mind that any information you volunteer to a police officer can be used against you at trial, even if the police officer failed to read you your Miranda rights.

How Can A Police Officer Arrest You Without Reading You Your Miranda Rights?

A police officer is not legally required to read you your Miranda rights, even if they arrest you. As I noted above, the police officer only reads you the Miranda Warning if they want to interrogate you in police custody and use your testimony against you in court.

In many cases, the police officer witnesses the crime taking place, so they don’t need to waste time questioning you.

For example, let’s say a cop sees you speeding and pulls you over for a traffic stop. When you roll down your car window to hand the cop your driver’s license, the officer smells marijuana and asks if you have any weed or paraphernalia in the car. You answer truthfully “Yes” and you hand over a baggy of weed and a pipe that you had recently used while at a friend’s house. (Or you answer “No” and the police officer searches your car and finds your weed and pipe.)

At this point, the police officer may arrest you and take you to jail or just give you a ticket for possession of marijuana and paraphernalia and let you leave.

All of this is perfectly legal, even if the police officer did not read you your Miranda rights.

In this situation, the police officer can testify in court regarding what they saw and what you told them, which is enough for the Prosecutor to charge you with possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. If you plead not guilty and take your case to trial, the Prosecutor will call the police officer as a witness to testify against you in court.

Of course, you should always consult an experienced criminal defense attorney if you have been charged with a crime so your attorney can determine if there were any constitutional issues with the search that would allow the evidence to be suppressed.

Police Can Briefly Detain You For Questioning Without Reading You Your Miranda Rights

Police can briefly detain you to ask basic questions about a crime, or to ask your name and address, without being required to read you your Miranda rights. This is called a “Terry Stop,” named after a 1968 case called Terry v. Ohio, which set new standards that allowed police officers to search someone for weapons without having probable cause for arrest.

According to Terry, a police officer can briefly detain you to question you, without a warrant and without reading your your Miranda rights, if the police officer has reasonable suspicion that you are involved in criminal activity. This is called a “Terry Stop” or “Stop & Frisk.” You are not in police custody, but police can search your outer clothing for weapons if they have reasonable suspicion that you might be armed and dangerous.

 

For more information, you can read my previous blog post about Miranda rights.

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St. Louis criminal defense attorney Andrea Storey Rogers can be contacted at (314) 724-5059 or [email protected]

Police Don’t Have to Read Miranda Rights Before Arresting You

Police officers must read you your rights only if they want to question you while in police custody and use your testimony against you in court. It is not illegal for a police officer to arrest you without reading you the Miranda warning.

What Are Miranda Rights?

The Miranda warning protects a person’s Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination during police interrogation. It comes from a 1966 Supreme Court case called Miranda v. Arizona, which established that a criminal suspect has the right to remain silent during police interrogation and the right to consult an attorney. This means you don’t have to answer any of the police officer’s questions, and if you ask for an attorney at any time during the interrogation, the police officer must immediately stop questioning you.  

What if Police Question You Without Reading the Miranda Warning?

If you’re in police custody and the police question you without reading you your rights, any evidence discovered as a result of that questioning is not admissible in court.

Sometimes people volunteer information to the police without being asked any questions. In that situation, what you say can be used against you in court even if the police didn’t read you your rights.

Police Don’t Have To Read You Your Rights if They Briefly Detain You

Another situation in which police officers don’t have to read you your rights is when they are just asking basic questions to establish your identity, or if they briefly detain you to question you about a crime. This is called a “Terry Stop,” named after a 1968 case called Terry v. Ohio, which set new standards that allowed police officers to search someone for weapons without having probable cause for arrest.

For example, a police officer can stop you while you’re walking on the street or driving your car if he has a reasonable suspicion that you are involved in criminal activity. The officer can briefly detain you to question you, without a warrant and without being required to read you your Miranda rights.

During a Terry Stop, technically, you are not in police custody and you are free to leave at any time. However, the police can search your outer clothing for weapons if they have a reasonable suspicion that you may be armed and dangerous, and they can confiscate other contraband (drugs) that they find during the search. This is also known as a “Stop & Frisk.”

You Must Allow Police “Pat-Down” of Outer Clothing

You don’t have to answer questions during a traffic stop or other confrontation with a police officer, and you don’t have to consent to a search of your vehicle or home, but you must submit to a pat-down of your outer clothing if the police officer suspects that you have a weapon.

Keep in mind that, in some states, it’s against the law to refuse to answer when a police officer asks for your name, date of birth, and address.

If the police officer asks you any questions, all you have to say is, “Am I under arrest, or am I free to leave?” or “I’m not going to answer any questions” or “Can I call my lawyer now?” This can be risky, because if you anger the police officer by refusing to answer his questions, he may decide that he has probable cause to arrest you.

Why Didn’t the Police Officer Read You Your Rights?

As noted above, a police officer must read the Miranda warning to you only if he wants to question you in police custody and use your testimony against you in court.

In many situations, the police officer is a witness to the crime, so he has no reason to question the suspect. For example, if a police officer pulls you over for a traffic stop and he sees a bag of weed on the console of your car, the police officer’s testimony is sufficient evidence for the prosecuting attorney to charge you with possession of marijuana.


If you have questions about a recent arrest or if you’re wondering whether police illegally interrogated you, call St. Louis traffic law attorney Andrea Storey Rogers at (314) 724-5059 for a free consultation, or email Andrea at [email protected]

How Long Can Police Keep You in Jail Without Filing Charges?

If you have been arrested and taken to jail in Missouri, the police must release you after 24 hours of confinement if the prosecuting attorney fails to charge you with a crime within that time period.

If no charges have been filed after 24 hours of detention and the police are unable to obtain a warrant to hold you any longer, then they must release you.

Click here to read the Missouri law about how long police can keep you in jail without charging you.

Contrary to popular opinion, the police do not have to read you your Miranda rights before arresting you. A police officer must read you the Miranda warning (“You have the right to remain silent…”) if he wants to question you while you are in police custody and use that testimony against you in court. If the police officer fails to read you your rights, any evidence discovered as a result of the interrogation is inadmissible in court.