The Supreme Court decision inMiranda v. Arizona in 1966 set the precedent requiring law enforcement to inform any person
taken into custody of their legal rights. Most people know a few of these
rights, such as “You have the right to remain silent,” “You
have the right to an attorney,” and “Anything you say can
and will be used against you in a court of law.” However, the exact
details of how these warnings must be given is often misconstrued and
general misinformation has led to a number of urban myths regarding these
rights. Our Jonesboro criminal defense lawyers take a look at a few of
them in this blog.
Myth #1: I am In Custody if I am not “Free to Leave”
The legal decision of
California v. Beheler (1983) set the standard for “custody” to be legally defined
as “Formal arrest, or restraint of freedom of movement of the degree
associated with formal arrest.” Essentially what this translates
to is, the extent of your ability to move constitutes whether or not you
are under arrest. This is important because all persons deemed to be in custody
must be read their Miranda rights before they can be questioned or interrogated.
A person who is not “free to leave” the police station because
they are being questioned about a serious crime is technically considered
in “custody” due to the restraint. However, if you are detained
at a traffic or pedestrian stop, you may not be “free to leave,”
but you are not under arrest or in any form of custody. Therefore, if
you are arrested and taken to the police station, you will likely need
to be read your rights, but a pedestrian stop or traffic stop does not
require this action.
Myth #2: My Rights Must Be Read to Me Immediately Upon Arrest
This only happens on television and in movies. You can be arrested, transported
to a law enforcement station, and even detained for a significant amount
of time before your rights are read to you – and this is completely
legal. Miranda rights must only be read “prior to any questioning.”
If law enforcement begins questioning you immediately after your arrest,
right at the scene, then they must read you your rights on the spot before
they begin to do so; however this is exceedingly rare. Unless law enforcement
wishes to begin questioning you following your arrest, they are not required
to read you your rights.
Myth #3: I Must Be Asked If I Wish to Speak With a Lawyer
Once again, you might see this occasionally in movies, but this is in no
way required by law, and will rarely, if ever happen. Law enforcement
are free to take any answers you may give them after reading you your
rights, and not having a lawyer present may cause you to make a statement
they can use against you in court. However, you in turn have the “Right
to remain silent” and refuse to answer any of their questions until
you have an attorney present. In this instance, you will be allowed to
reach out to them, and likewise if you cannot afford one, you can request
the services of a public defender to represent you and be present at your
Ford & Cook, PLC
is a Jonesboro criminal defense law firm that has successfully defended
numerous clients from a wide range of criminal charges. We view our law
practice in a manner similar to that of the police: it is our job to protect
citizens from the harshness of the legal system to the best of our ability.
We get to know all of our clients personally and put their best interests
first in order to minimize the impact a legal case can have on their lives
and their loved ones.
Contact Ford & Cook, PLC online today or call our Jonesboro criminal defense
attorneys at (870) 853-3621 and request a consultation with our skilled
team of professionals.