Understanding Miranda Rights


Television and Movies always portray police officers reading Miranda rights to persons under arrest or suspected of a crime. This is very dramatic but not a good portrayal of when and how the police must read a suspect their Miranda Rights.

The Miranda rights are as follows:

"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 an attorney present during questioning. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you. Do you understand these rights?"

The following case is a good example of the use of Miranda rights, when the are to be used and how they can protect someone under criminal investigation. It is important to note that one should never speak with the police and should contact a criminal defense lawyer immediately.

In People v Baggett, 57 AD3d 1093, the Court erred in denying the defendant's motion to suppress written statements and an audio recording during which he admitted to committing certain crimes. The prosecution did not meet its initial burden of proving that the statements were voluntary. At the time the defendant made the first incriminating statement, a reasonable, innocent person would not have felt free to leave.

Around midnight, the police pulled over the car the defendant was riding in, even though no traffic violations were committed. The police asked the defendant to come with them to the station, and the driver was allowed to leave. The defendant was transported in a marked police car, but was not handcuffed. He waited in an interview room, and when questioning started the door was closed. The police told him the information they had, including an accusation against him by an associate. After he denied stealing anything, the questioning continued.

The police did not administrator Miranda warnings until the defendant finally admitted that he stole the bicycle.

The pre-Miranda questions were accusatory in nature, and intended to elicit an incriminating response. Although the other statements were made after the Miranda warnings, they were tainted by the prior admission and there was no significant break in the questioning.

The statements were suppressed.

At Proto, Sachs & Brown, LLP our criminal defense trial attorneys want you to understand your rights and how to protect yourself, in a stressful situation, from police misconduct. Our advice to our clients is that it is never advisable to talk to the police without a criminal defense attorney. The police are looking for an accused to make an admission to a crime since it is easier to obtain a conviction with an admission.

In Westchester, Rockland, Orange, Putnam, Dutchess and Bronx Counties our criminal defense attorneys regularly appear in Court and conduct suppression hearings based upon statements made by an accused. Statements are very strong evidence of guilt and the best criminal defense must attack any statements made.

In certain circumstances the police DO NOT have to read you your rights so it is advisable NOT to make any statements at any time to the police. Immediately call our office for a FREE consultation.