The average person doesn’t know much about their civil rights. However, the Miranda Warning has become part of popular culture. Many movies and television shows depict police officers providing the Miranda Warning. As a result, the average person is likely aware of the two main elements of the Miranda Warning. Specifically, they know that officers must tell them about their right to remain silent and their right to legal representation.
However, because many people get their information about their Miranda rights from popular media, they may not really understand when the warning should go into effect.
When must a police officer advise someone of their Miranda rights?
The Miranda Warning should occur before questioning after an arrest
Someone generally needs to be in police custody for their Miranda rights to apply. Therefore, TV shows often show officers reciting the Miranda Warning when they put someone in handcuffs or place them in a police vehicle.
However, there is no rule that says that officers must notify someone of their Miranda rights at the time of their arrest. Instead, someone must be aware of their rights prior to questioning while in state custody. Officers don’t need to inform someone about their rights if they talk to them before arresting them.
Similarly, if police officers arrest someone but do not intend to question them, they may never provide the Miranda Warning. For example, someone arrested for a Minnesota driving while intoxicated (DWI) offense may not need to speak to police officers at all. Their behavior in traffic, performance on field sobriety tests and chemical test results could be sufficient evidence for the state to bring a case against them. Therefore, officers may not provide the Miranda Warning during an arrest for a DWI offense.
If the officers do decide to question someone while they are in state custody, they must ensure that the individual is aware of their right to remain silent and their right to legal representation. This right is so important that police departments have to provide translating services to give the warning. The courts may throw out evidence obtained while questioning someone who is unaware of their Miranda rights.
Learning more about the rules that govern police conduct may help people understand if the state has violated their rights and given them cause to challenge any evidence related to their unlawful questioning.