Unquestionably, in my 35-years of criminal defense experience, the single most misunderstood concept is the right to Miranda. “They never read me my rights.” We hear this all the time. Your rights do not have to be read to you unless you are both in custody, and the questions the police ask are intended to obtain a criminatory response.
Let’s talk about this for a moment. Imagine the police ask you to come to the police precinct and have a discussion with them. You’ll be free to leave at any time. You will not be given Miranda Rights because you’re not in custody, even if the police’s intention is to get you to incriminate, and it’s a hard interrogation. If you’re not in custody, you don’t have the right to Miranda Rights.
How about if you get pulled over in your car? Most courts will say you’re not in custody. It’s a brief investigatory detention. Miranda Rights are not required, even if the police question you and try to get you to incriminate yourself. How about if the police call you up on the phone? They say, “I’m detective so and so, we’re investigating this offense.” They ask you hard, pointed questions, and you later say, “No one read me my rights.” Rights are not required if you’re not in custody. If you’re talking to the police on the phone, you’re not in custody.
However, if you are in custody and the questions that you are asked by the police are intended to obtain a response that can incriminate you, the Miranda Rights are required. They include the right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law, that you have the right to an attorney and that if you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you. One of the utmost important things that you can do for yourself is to know what your rights are. This can mean the difference between being held in custody and walking out of the police station without being held.
If you are in need of legal counsel in New York State, please feel free to contact Grunwald & Seman, P.C. and we would be happy to assist you.