A common misconception in criminal law is that law enforcement *must* read a suspect’s Miranda warnings when he or she is arrested.
It happens every time on TV, so it’s supposed to happen every time in real life, too, right?
Not necessarily. While it is probably a good practice for law enforcement to issue Miranda warnings to a suspect when they are taken into custody, it is not mandatory. In South Carolina, there is one exception to this rule: law enforcement *must* provide Miranda warnings to a suspect on scene and on video when arresting a suspect for driving under the influence. You can read more on that topic HERE.
Miranda warnings are given to make sure a suspect is informed of a number of things: they cannot be forced to provide a statement; if they provide a statement, the statement may be used against them in a criminal prosecution; they are entitled to speak to a lawyer before or during questioning and will have one appointed at no cost if they cannot afford one, and; if they choose to make a statement or answer questions, they can stop at any time.
So, outside of a DUI, what happens if law enforcement doesn’t give Miranda warnings? The short answer is any statement made by the suspect after arrest may be kept out of court by the judge when the case goes to trial. If law enforcement wants to use a statement against a defendant, that statement must be knowingly and intelligently made. This means, in most circumstances, Miranda warnings must be given to a suspect prior to their making a statement to law enforcement for the government to be allowed to use that statement against the individual later.
A criminal defendant may be able to challenge law enforcement using a statement against them in trial. As you may have noticed, a lot of thought goes into how law enforcement could, or should, take statements from suspects. Even more thought and effort goes into determining whether those statements are eligible to be used against a person in a criminal case. Grove Ozment knows the ins and outs of Miranda and how to determine if law enforcement performed their duties properly. If you have been charged with a crime, or have been contacted by law enforcement to make a statement about a crime they are investigating, contact us online today or call us for a free consultation!