The Importance of Miranda Warnings

November 28, 2023

“You have the right to remain silent…”

Miranda rights” are often written into the scripts of movies and TV shows. Miranda warnings protect your rights during an arrest by advising you of your right to remain silent and your right to a lawyer. It is important for anyone being arrested on federal or state criminal charges to understand how Miranda works to protect basic rights.

Miranda rights” were established by the Supreme Court of the United States in Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966) to deter the use of coercive interrogation techniques. Supported by the Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, “Miranda warnings” protect you against self-incrimination. When a suspect is arrested, “Miranda warnings” should be read before any police questioning. The exact language will differ among police officers and departments, but the warnings should read as follows:

  1. You have the right to remain silent.
  2. Anything you say can be used against you in a court of law.
  3. You have the right to a lawyer before and during questioning.
  4. If you cannot afford a lawyer, one can be appointed to represent you before and during questioning.
  5. You can decide at any time to exercise these rights and not answer any questions or make any statements.

The arresting officer will often ask if you understand these rights and are willing to answer questions by “waiving” (giving up) your rights.

Correctly reading the “Miranda warnings” is critical because there is a much lower risk of coercing self-incriminating statements from an adequately informed suspect. Confession and admissions obtained through police coercion or intimidation are not admissible in court. The Florida courts have strictly interpreted Miranda  as requiring that a person “in custody” be notified of the right to have counsel present not only before police interrogation but also during any interrogation. The courts hold that correctly reading “Miranda warnings” is no mere technicality. See President v. State, 884 So.2d 126 (Fla. 4th DCA 2004), Roberts v. State, 874 So.2d 1225 (Fla. 4th DCA 2004); Ramirez v. State, 739 So.2d 568 (Fla 1999); Holland v. State, 813 So.2d 1007, 1009 (Fla. 4th DCA 2002); Statewright v. State, 278 So.2d 652 (Fla 4th DCA 1973); James v. State, 223 So.2d 52 (Fla. 4th DCA 1969).

Police must read your Miranda rights when you are “in custody” and subject to “interrogation,” meaning not only direct questioning, but also words or actions by police that the police should know are reasonably likely to obtain an incriminating response from a suspect. You are certainly “in custody” when you’ve been placed under arrest. However, when a suspect is actually “in custody” is not always clear. Generally, four factors determine whether you are in police custody:

  1. How the police officer exposed the suspect to questioning.
  2. The purpose, place, and manner of questioning.
  3. The degree to which the suspect is presented with evidence of his or her guilt.
  4. Whether the suspect is informed that he or she is free to leave.

An experienced criminal defense lawyer can evaluate whether or not the suspect was subjected to any “interrogation” while “in custody,” and collect any evidence of police coercion or intimidation.

In the past we have successfully challenged the validity, accuracy, and acknowledgement of Miranda warnings. Below please check out a prime example of what happens when these important matters are victoriously litigated.

Charges Dropped | Possession of Cocaine

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