You’ve heard them stated on TV and in movies hundreds of times: “You have the right to remain silent . . .” But the first time you hear the Miranda rights directed at you by a police officer, your mind can be so jumbled by nerves that you might unintentionally waive your Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination.
But there are other considerations in the matter. Under the law, the police have limited wiggle room when delaying the reading of a person’s Miranda rights. Let’s examine two of those potential exceptions.
Suppose a suspect provides the police with information that leads to the suspect’s arrest. If the arresting officer failed to read the suspect their Miranda rights, or if they did and the subject was otherwise coerced by the cops to confess to a crime, the charges may be thrown out of court.
But if the prosecution is able to demonstrate to the court that the evidence that led to the suspect’s arrest would have been discovered without the suspect making the admission, it may remain in evidence.
If, however, the suspect can prove that any admissions were made under the threat or evidence of violence, not only could the charges be dismissed but the police officers could face civil actions for violating a suspect’s rights.
Another time when police may begin questions suspects before reading them their Miranda rights is when the safety of the public is at risk during a police stop. Suppose the police received a report that someone was armed and on their way to go shoot up the local elementary school. On their way to respond, they see someone walking out of their house carrying a long gun.
Maybe that guy is you and you are headed out to go hunting at your buddy’s hunting lodge. You don’t know anything about a school shooting but might have a small amount of pot in your pocket.
The police could credibly argue in these circumstances that they stopped, questioned and frisked you before reading your rights as they assumed that you might be on your way to the school to commit mass murder. In that case, they could claim that the safety of the public trumped your individual rights under the law.
As always, during any arrest, it’s better to say nothing and invoke your Miranda right to speak with your criminal defense attorney.