“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you….” We’ve heard television cops played by everyone from Jack Webb to Ice-T read people their rights for decades. However, when you’re the person being detained and questioned by police, you may not be thinking about whether you received your “Miranda warning” or not.
These Miranda rights stem not from the U.S. Constitution, but from a Supreme Court case, Miranda v. Arizona. If a person who’s taken in to custodial interrogation, they must be read their rights. If they aren’t, their case could be thrown out.
However, there are three important exceptions. Let’s look at those.
Law enforcement officers aren’t required to read the Miranda warning until they begin asking questions that could implicate someone in an alleged crime. For example, if you’re stopped and asked identifying questions like your name and address, you don’t have to be Mirandized at that point.
If a person’s interrogation is considered necessary for public safety or the safety of officers, their statements can be used against them even if they weren’t Mirandized. A famous example involved the interrogation of one of the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing. The Department of Justice stated at the time, “No Miranda warning to be given. The government will be invoking the public safety exception.”
The third exception involves statements made to anyone who does not work (at least openly) for the government. For example, Miranda rules typically apply when the interrogator is a law enforcement officer or prosecutor. However, if you make an incriminating statement to a police officer working undercover, Miranda rights don’t apply because you didn’t know you were talking to an officer.
Unfortunately, too many people go ahead and talk even after they’ve been Mirandized. They may think they’re getting themselves out of trouble but could be making things worse. That’s why you should always take advantage of the right to an attorney that Miranda gives you. If you believe you were not Mirandized when you should have been, be sure to let your attorney know.