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Understanding the Miranda Warning

Understanding the Miranda Warning

Many people believe that if they are arrested and the police officer or detective does not read them the Miranda warning, their case will be dismissed. This is not true. Most people are familiar with Miranda warnings due to its prevalence on television shows and movies. The reading of the Miranda warning typically warns a person that they have a right to remain silent, they have a right to consult an attorney, and anything they say can be used against him or her in a court of law.

The common misconception among many people is that police officers must inform people of their Miranda rights if they are questioned by police. Miranda warnings are required in only very specific situations. Two conditions must be present to trigger the Miranda warning. First, the person must be in custody. Second, the person must be subjected to interrogation by the police. The definition of custody obviously includes situations where the person is handcuffed or in jail, but it can also include any other situation where the person is deprived of his freedom in a significant way. Therefore, a person may be in “custody” even in their own home or on a public street. Without these two requirements, Miranda is not required.

If a person is in custody and interrogated and Miranda warnings were not provided, any statements in response to police questioning cannot be used at trial. Furthermore, any evidence obtained as a result of the inadmissible statement also cannot be used at trial. For instance, if Miranda warnings were not provided to a person who responds to police questioning by informing investigators where certain incriminating evidence can be found, that evidence will be considered “fruit of the poisonous tree” and cannot be used at trial. The reason for the suppression of the evidence is because the evidence was only located as a result of illegal police interrogation.

However, there are exceptions to Miranda. For instance, the public safety exception allows statements that violate Miranda to be admitted into evidence if they were elicited under circumstances where there is a great danger to the general public.

If you or a loved one is a suspect and the police want to speak with you, you should respectfully decline to meet with investigators without an attorney present. The St. Louis criminal defense lawyers of Henderson & Waterkotte, P.C. can advise you as to the best course of action and be present with you at the police station. Call us today for a free consultation.

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