Thanks to popular detective shows, practically anyone today can recite the Miranda warning. But, if asked about when these rights must be read, many people will likely not know.
So, when are police required to read Miranda rights to a suspect?
Miranda rights, also known as Miranda warnings, stem from a 1966 U.S. Supreme Court case called Miranda v. Arizona.
The court concluded that suspects subjected to any type of “custodial interrogation” must first be made aware that they have the right to remain silent and have the right to an attorney before answering any questions or making any type of incriminating statements.
But what exactly is a custodial interrogation for purposes of triggering the Miranda warning?
First, a suspect must be in police custody. Second, an interrogation must occur.
In basic terms, suspects are in police custody if they are deprived of their freedom of action. If a suspect isn’t free to leave, he or she is likely in custody. An arrest is a common example.
An interrogation occurs when police start asking a suspect questions or take action that is intended to elicit an incriminating response. Miranda warnings must be given prior to an interrogation-otherwise anything a suspect says or does cannot be used against them as evidence in court.
It’s important to note that there are many instances that would technically meet the definition of custodial interrogation and thus trigger the Miranda warnings-but fall outside the requirement. Courts have determined that a basic traffic stop or a detainment in a park do not stimulate the need to Mirandize.
Individuals with questions about specific circumstances should speak with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney.