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NYC Criminal Defense Attorney

You Weren't Read your Rights?


How often had we heard on TV that before your arrested, the cop will say: "You have the right to remain silent, anything you say will be used in a court of law... You have the right to talk to a lawyer and have him present during any questioning...." This warning is based on the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S 436 (1966) and is often referred to as Miranda for short. In Miranda, the Court held that the Fifth Amendment requires law enforcement officials to advise a suspect in custody of his or her rights to remain silent and have access to an attorney. Before this decision, suspects would often engage in long conversations with the police and try, often unsuccessfully, to avoid arrest. Because juries almost always believe a confession, it is extremely dangerous to speak with the police without an attorney. Miranda gives you an important chance to speak with an attorney before you seal your fate.

I'm often told that the NYPD hasn't read my clients their rights during the arrest. Whether they were required to is a complicated issue. Sometimes, the police don't need to read you your rights if they don't interrogate you. However, even if you do think you weren't interrogated, how do you know for sure? The police will, sometimes, ask seemingly innocent question on the way to central booking such as "you got money, why did you steal?" Your answer may be mentioned to the District Attorney who may then attempt to use it as a confession. Also, a different police officer may ask you questions at the station incorrectly presuming that the arresting officer or other officer read you Miranda. Any failure to read you Miranda, under these circumstances, would probably mean your statement would be excluded. If your lawyer doesn't know the police failed to read Miranda, he or she may miss this important issue so if the police don't read you your rights, bring it up with your lawyer.

People also call me and explain either that they waived Miranda or plan to waive Miranda and speak with the police. This makes me cringe. Waiving Miranda means you plan to ignore the Miranda warnings and speak with the police without a lawyer. This is a bad idea because the police are under no duty to be honest with you about why they want to speak with you or what they already know. Additionally, you may accidentally implicate yourself in something that you didn't do. Most importantly, what do you get for being cooperative? I've never heard of someone who talked their way out if an arrest. I suppose it happens but it's so overwhelmingly unlikely that you should resist the temptation. If the police have enough for an arrest, they will probably arrest you anyway even if you deny it.

So, mention any failure to read you your rights to your lawyer and never speak with the police without your lawyer present.