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Miranda Rights in DC Criminal Cases

Despite what is on television and in the movies, Miranda Rights are not necessary in every scenario involving a police officer. If you are interested in learning more about the impact that the Miranda Rights will have on your criminal case and to discuss whether your rights may have been violated, call and schedule a consultation with a DC criminal defense attorney today.

When Miranda Rights Come into Play

The number one common misconception about Miranda rights is that the police must read a person their Miranda rights for them to be able to use anything the person says against them. In reality, however, Miranda rights are very limited. They apply only to custodial interrogations. This means that if the police has a person in custody and ask them questions at that time, they must have been read their Miranda rights.

For example, when an individual is pulled over by the police while driving through DC, the police may start asking him questions outside his car about whether the individual had been drinking or was impaired by drugs or alcohol, or even ask the individual to get out of the vehicle and perform field sobriety tests. The questioning and the tests are not considered to occur while the person is in custody. Therefore, the police are not required to read the Miranda rights to an individual engaging in these activities.

If police continue questioning the individual once he has been arrested and handcuffed, they must have read him his Miranda rights in order to use any of those responses against him in court. Note also that the Miranda rights do not apply to volunteered information.

In other words, if a person is arrested and just blurts out to the police information or comments, such as “Man, I should not have been drinking and driving,” there is no protection under the Miranda rights even though the person is in police custody because he was not “interrogated,” i.e. he did not give that answer as a response to a police question.

Miranda Rights Misconceptions

Another misconception is that if the police fail to read a person their Miranda rights, or “Mirandize” them, then they cannot charge the person with a criminal offense. This is not true. Miranda protection applies only if the police engage in custodial interrogation without first reading a person their Miranda rights. If they do fail to read the person their rights in this type of situation, then they cannot use their answers to custodial questions against them in court. That is the limit of Miranda.