Miranda Rights

Miranda Rights

QuestionsCategory: Legal helpMiranda Rights
DJ asked 53 years ago
Is a person always protected against self-incrimination whenever they make contact with the law enforcement?
1 Answers

Best Answer

Intern Aboutlaw.comIntern Staff answered 5 months ago
This is one of the most important yet, the least understood legal matter that has serious consequences for all parties: law enforcement agents, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and of course individuals making contact with law enforcement agents. Let’s start with the most important things, with an eye towards what is in the best interest of a person making contact with law enforcement.

  1. Miranda is not a right; it is a list of warnings.
  2. Issuing Miranda warnings: law enforcement officers are under no obligation (legal or otherwise) to issue Miranda warnings to a person they are in contact with unless these conditions are met:a. The person is a suspect;

    b. The suspect is in law enforcement agent (or agency) custody; and

    c. The suspect IS under interrogation.

    To be very specific: Let’s say a person was walking in the street. Perhaps a person from the neighborhood thought that the person walking in the street is suspicious. They call the police. An officer is dispatched to the area. The officer approaches the person and starts to ask the person general questions. For whatever reason, the officer may fear for their safety or the safety of members of the public; the officer tells the person: “I am not going to arrest you. For safety reasons, I am going to handcuff you.” The person says nothing. The person is now in handcuffs. The police officer continues to ask questions, like where are you from? do you have an ID on you; what is your name…

    The person starts by answering the questions, and in the process, reveals something that is incriminating; examples: selling some kind of drugs where it is illegal; using some drugs where it is illegal… etc.

    Once such statements were made; the officer may decide to do this:

    Tell you the person: you are under arrest… for whatever violation the person just admitted to, read for them their Miranda warnings, and take the person to jail, and write a report and files whatever evidence—bodycam video, audio, etc.). The officer did not interrogate the person once they were placed under arrest.

    Here is now the important question:

    Can the person ask the court to throughout the statements they made before their arrest because the Miranda warnings were not stated for them?

    The answer is, they could ask for that, but the court is unlikely to grant the request. That is because the Miranda warnings are not general and absolute civil rights or human rights. They are instruments to prevent government agents from abusing individual’s constitutional rights such as forcing them to incriminate themselves through forced confessions.

    But the Miranda warnings occupy a very narrow strip in the context of a person’s interaction with law enforcement: the three conditions stated above.

    In other words, if a person is not a suspect and was not interrogated while in custody; everything a person says to the law enforcement agent WILL BE ADMITTED IN COURT AND CAN AND WILL BE USED AGAINST THEM.

    So from the point of view of civil rights and human rights, a person interacting with law enforcement agents are under the burden of determining whether or not they should be talking to the officers. The officers are under no obligation to tell people they interact with that if you admit to a crime, such admission will be used against you. Obviously doing so will make their job solving crimes very hard. So they preserve whatever tools they have to solve crimes, not to protect civil rights. Individuals, on the other hand, are under the obligation, personal interest, to know their civil and human rights and to know when they should or should not talk to law enforcement agents. Know  your rights!

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