What happens if the police don't read me my rights?


What happens if the police don't read me my rights?


Any time that a police officer makes a formal arrest after an investigation, the officer is required to read to the defendant their legal right to refuse providing incriminating evidence against themselves. This is the essence of the defendant's Fifth Amendment governmental non-interference constitutional guarantees.

However, there is no guarantee that a failure to read these rights to a defendant, legally termed as being "Mirandized," will result in the dismissal of the case. Furthermore, there is no Miranda requirement for suspects in a potential crime before an official arrest.

Holding a Suspect

Police can hold a suspect for a "reasonable" amount of time while investigating a potential crime, but the Constitution makes no mention of an exact time limit. "Reasonable" is the most overused term in the legal industry. The concept allows for expansive legal authority and interpretation latitude, which empowers the prosecution in most cases, because prosecutors determine their own legal reasoning.

If an officer finds probable cause that a crime has been committed without questioning the suspect, being Mirandized matters little. However, there are situations where the failure to communicate Fifth Amendment rights can result in a weaker case for the prosecution.

Right to a Speedy Trial

The "speedy trial" doctrine is associated with the Sixth Amendment and unlawful detainment. The trial process actually begins with the original custody apprehension. The prosecutor then has a "reasonable" time frame in which to file a charge or release the suspect. There is no federal time limit for holding a suspect while conducting a criminal investigation, but federal policy is usually 24 hours.

However, since many suspects are charged at the state level, states usually adhere to a 72-hour rule for investigation and potential release. Upon arrest and indictment, defendants choosing to take a case to jury trial may have to wait for up to a year. All defendants are evaluated for bond conditions, but those who may be a flight risk may be required to stay in jail.

When will I need an attorney?

Depending on the seriousness of the crime, the suspect may need an attorney immediately. This includes the period before a formal arrest. It is important to understand when the suspect becomes a defendant. This status changes when the officer actually applies the handcuffs and tells the suspect that they are officially under arrest. This is the point when Miranda rights should be delivered.

While presenting a driver's license and proof of insurance is not optional upon officer request, a suspect can always request the opportunity to discuss the apprehension with a lawyer immediately upon questioning. Officers can still attempt to interrogate the suspect before an arrest. It is never a good idea to make small talk with an officer, because they have the power of interpretation during the investigation. Additionally, the investigation begins upon being questioned for anything. Any questions answered become material case fact, and the defendant's attorney should always be present during officer questioning.

Most cases involving a failure to Mirandize a defendant involve an officer who has not been trained in appropriate legal arrest protocol. State officers commonly understand the process, but all local officers are not equal in training. Failure to read the defendant their legal questioning rights most often results in the omission of any illegally ascertained evidence. However, it is very difficult to "unhear" evidence that cannot be officially included if the evidence gets mentioned to a jury. It is imperative to have a solid criminal defense attorney at all times, and do not be afraid to assert your Fifth Amendment rights.

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Whether you're facing a legal issue or just seeking information, Justipedia aims to be your most trusted resource for legal information on the Web. With the help of legal professionals across the country, we put the law in plain language to help answer your top legal questions.

Justipedia was founded by Internet veterans Cory Janssen and Mitchell Allen. Janssen founded Investopedia.com and grew it one of the largest investing sites on the Web. Allen is an author, speaker and the founder of LeadRival, the leading provider of pay-per-action advertising in consumer legal services.

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