When Must Police Read Me My Rights?

According to the U.S. Supreme Court, individuals whom law enforcement officials arrest and place in custody must read them their “Miranda” rights. These rights are familiar to anyone who has watched “Law and Order” or movies involving law enforcement. More specifically, Miranda rights include advisements that:

  • 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 talk to a lawyer and have him or her present with you while you are being questioned.
  • If you cannot afford to hire a lawyer, one will be appointed to represent you before any questioning, if you wish.
  • You can decide at any time to exercise these rights and not answer any questions or make any statements.

The key is that police aren’t required to read you your rights unless you are in custody. Therefore, if a police officer pulls you over, approaches your car window, and asks you if you have been drinking, he is not required to read you Miranda rights. You have not been arrested and are not in custody.

On the other hand, suppose a police officer pulls you over on suspicion of DWI and asks you to step out of the car to perform field sobriety tests. You fall to the ground during the first test because you are intoxicated. The police officer puts you in handcuffs and arrests you for DWI. He then asks you if there are any weapons or drugs in your vehicle. You tell him that there is a gun in the console and marijuana in the glove compartment. In this situation, the police officer didn’t ask you questions about weapons or drugs until after you were in police custody, and didn’t read you Miranda rights before questioning you. In this situation, a failure to read you Miranda rights could result in any criminal charges related to the gun and marijuana dismissed due to a lack of physical evidence. The court is likely to suppress the gun and drugs because you were not read Miranda rights prior to being questioned about them, and thus the police officer obtained those items illegally. At Missouri DWI & Criminal Law Center, we offer you client-focused representation and unrelenting protection of your rights throughout your criminal proceedings. When you need help that only an experienced criminal defense attorney can offer you, contact Benjamin Law Firm, LLC, at (816) 322-8008 or fill out the online information form located here.

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