We’ve already talked about the general principles of Miranda.
You can read more about that HERE.
Just because a person has made a statement to law enforcement doesn’t mean the statement can be used against them at trial. A judge must decide whether the statement was knowingly and intelligently made.
It’s not always that straightforward, though. Any statement a suspect makes must be analyzed using several factors to see if Miranda warnings are required to be given. For example, it matters whether the statement is considered “custodial,” meaning whether the suspect was in the custody of law enforcement at the time the statement was made. It also matters whether the questioning/interrogation was done by a member of law enforcement (or a person acting on law enforcement’s behalf) versus questioning done by a civilian. There are additional factors, too: was the statement made during a consensual encounter or as the result of an interrogation; was the statement “testimonial” in nature, meaning was is the evidence law enforcement wants to use considered a “communication” made by the suspect (think actual words, or a head nod) rather than some form of tangible evidence (think a fingerprint, DNA, or the like); is the statement being used against a suspect in a criminal proceeding.
As you may have noticed, the facts surrounding each statement have to be looked at to determine whether the statement, or statements, provided to law enforcement are eligible to be used against a defendant. Whether a statement appears to be eligible to be used against a defendant often plays a huge role in the way the case proceeds. It can affect how either a prosecutor or a defendant feels about the strength or weakness of a case and can have a significant impact on whether a case goes to trial, or whether charges are reduced or even dismissed.
It’s critical to engage an attorney who knows the law surrounding Miranda so your legal rights are protected. If you have been charged with a crime, or been contacted by law enforcement about making a statement, contact us online today or call Grove Ozment for a free consultation!