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When are the police required to read a Miranda warning?

TV shows and movies sometimes rely on the plot point of a defendant’s charges getting dismissed because the police didn’t read them a Miranda warning. A real-life Tennessee courtroom may be much different than images presented in pop culture. Requirements for reading a suspect his or her Miranda rights only exist under narrow circumstances. Therefore, someone could make incriminating statements without their lawyer present, and those statements may become rock-solid evidence.

Miranda rights and the law

The necessity for police and other law enforcement officials to read someone the Miranda warning comes from a landmark Supreme Court case. The court’s decision noted that the police must inform someone of their rights after arresting or detaining them and when police plan to ask questions.

The police are not required to appraise anyone not detained of these rights. For example, when the police arrive at a supposed crime scene and talk to witnesses, someone who is not even a suspect could make an incriminating statement and face charges. Those statements may then become evidence.

Unfortunately, most people do not understand their rights under the Constitution. As such, they may get themselves into avoidable trouble.

Understanding constitutional rights and questioning

A basic tenet of criminal law is that everyone has a right to remain silent. Requesting that a lawyer be present during questioning is another right. Those who choose to try to talk their way out of a tough situation are not remaining silent; they may be building a case against themselves.

Choosing not to answer questions, opting to stay silent and requesting an attorney are viable options for anyone being questioned by police. When the police force someone to speak or deny a request for an attorney, the person’s rights might be violated.

When a client’s rights end up violated, a defense attorney may seek to have evidence dismissed. Without such evidence, there may no longer be a case.


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