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I Wasn’t Read My Rights. Can I still be convicted of a crime?

by | Jul 19, 2022 | Criminal Defense

Whether it is in a movie or your favorite episode of Law & Order, whenever someone is arrested for an alleged crime, the police always read the individual their Miranda Rights. Those rights include the right to remain silent, the right to an attorney, and the right to have an attorney paid for by the State of Ohio if you cannot afford an attorney. These rights are ingrained in our heads as something that must always be read when someone is arrested. However, that is not the case.

It is not required that an individual being arrested always be read their Miranda Rights. The case addressing this issue is the Supreme Court case of Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966). In that case, the issue posed to the Court was whether a defendant’s constitutional rights were violated when he was subject to police interrogation and not informed of his rights. In the case, the defendant was taken into custody and interrogated on the charges of kidnapping and rape. The defendant was never informed of his rights and was interrogated for two hours. Eventually, the defendant confessed to the crime and signed a written statement. At trial, the defendant’s confession and written statement were introduced as evidence against him even though he was not read his rights. After being convicted, the defendant appealed the conviction on the grounds that it was improper due to him being interrogated without being informed of his constitutional rights. The Supreme Court agreed with the defendant and ultimately overturned his conviction.

The Miranda case is much more specific than movies and television shows make it out to be. Contrary to public opinion, law enforcement does not have to read you your rights every time they arrest you or when they’re conducting an initial investigation. Per the Supreme Court, a person is only due to be read their rights when they are subject to custodial interrogation. Custodial interrogation means two things: 1. When law enforcement reasonably deprives your freedom to leave in any significant way (doesn’t have to be handcuffs) and 2. When they subject a person to questioning that is likely to elicit an incriminating response. The Court stated that relevant factors in determining custodial interrogation are who asked the questions, how many officers were present, where did the questioning take place, and did the officer inform the suspect that the interview was voluntary? Most notably, the Supreme Court has held that traffic stops do not require a Miranda warning because that suspect is detained and not yet in custody. Berkemer v. McCarty, 468 U.S. 420 (1984).

Being aware and notified of your rights is crucial when you are facing a criminal investigation or charge. As the Supreme Court has held, traffic stops generally do not require Miranda warnings unless you’re actually interrogated, which is not common for traffic stops and alleged driving under the influence. Anything you say up until then is fair game for law enforcement to use against you in the court of law. Another scenario where you are not due your rights is when police show up to your home to ask you questions about an investigation. Courts have seen these interactions to be “voluntary” and thus you could shut your door and refused to answer questions. It is crucial that you understand what to do when interacting with law enforcement. It is best to assume that everything you say is being recorded and will be used against you. Because of this, it is always best to politely refuse to answer any questions and inform law enforcement that you invoke your right to legal counsel prior to making any statements. Innocent or guilty, it is best to have an organized and well thought out statement prior to giving the police any additional evidence.

We here at Rittgers Rittgers & Nakajima always strive to do everything we can for our clients. From the very start of an investigation to the ultimate resolution, we will protect your interests and ensure that you have the highest standard of legal representation. If you are ever contacted by police or asked to come in for questioning, it is crucial that you do not go alone. Wherever you interact with police, it is important to be aware of your rights and remember that anything you say can and will be used against you.

We have experience all over southwest Ohio and will exhaust all options in securing the best outcome for you. If you are charged with a crime and have questions or need representation, please give us a call. Our consultations are free, and a member of our criminal team will sit down with you and explain next steps, a plan of attack, and how to best navigate your case. Our phones are open twenty-four hours a day and our number is 513-932-2115.