Miranda rights, also called Miranda warnings, are the list of rights that must be read to anyone who is being held or arrested by police. In Florida, the issue of Miranda rights has recently been in the news with the case of Casey Anthony. While she was not convicted in a murder trial last year, she was found guilty of lying to police. She is now appealing based on the fact that she wasn’t read her Miranda rights prior to police questioning. This brings up the obvious question – when is someone considered to be in custody and when should a person’s rights be read?

What are Miranda Rights?

According to a Supreme Court ruling, anyone in custody must be given their rights prior to interrogation. Miranda rights are designed to protect people from improper questioning. Here are the Miranda rights as they are typically provided:

  • You have the right to remain silent
  • Anything you say or do may be used against you in a court of law.
  • You have the right to consult an attorney before speaking to the police and you may have an attorney present during questioning (now or in the future).
  • If you cannot afford an attorney one will be appointed for you.
  • If you choose to answer any questions now, without an attorney present, you have the right to stop answering at any time until you speak to an attorney.
  • Do you understand these rights?

One of the biggest questions that comes into play when talking about Miranda rights is determining the exact point at which a suspect is considered “in custody” or “under arrest”. In the Casey Anthony case, she is stating that she was actually in custody when questioned and was never read her Miranda rights. The judge will need to decide whether Anthony was in custody or was free to go.

What Happens if Miranda Rights Weren’t Given?

Just because Miranda rights weren’t read or were not properly provided doesn’t mean the case automatically gets thrown out. Miranda rights apply specifically to what was said or done by the suspect. For example, if you’re stopped for a traffic offense and the officer suspects DUI he may ask you questions about whether you have been drinking. Your answers to these types of questions cannot be used against you if your Miranda rights weren’t read. However, there are many other factors that will be considered in your case including such things as field sobriety tests and blood or breath test results. If you have been arrested and weren’t properly read your rights you need to speak to an attorney as soon as possible. Make sure that your attorney knows when you were read your rights and what was discussed prior to the rights being read.

Defending Criminal Charges

Every case is different so it’s essential to speak to an experienced defense lawyer as soon as possible. Your attorney will review every aspect of your case including the reading (or lack of reading) your Miranda warnings. The attorney will gather all the evidence in your case including speaking to any witnesses and viewing any video tapes. Your lawyer will help to determine whether a lack of Miranda warnings will be a major factor in your specific case. Remember that statements made after the rights were read will typically hold up. If you are arrested or questioned for any crime your best defense is to stay silent until your attorney is present. This will ensure that your rights are protected and you’ll be prepared to properly respond to the police.