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I Wasn't Read My Rights, So I Can't Be Guilty. September 6, 2016

Indianola, Warren
I Wasn't Read My Rights, So I Can't Be Guilty., Indianola, Iowa

You’ve seen enough television shows to know the “rights” that the police have to read to you.  Usually after a dramatic handcuffing, you’ll hear the police officer brazenly state something to the effect of “you have a right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be used against you.  You have a right to an attorney.  If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.….”  These are known as the Miranda warnings and they are used to inform a suspect of his or her 5th amendment right against self-incrimination and 5th and 6th amendment rights to counsel.

The Miranda rights are now so well known by both lawyers and non-lawyers that in 2000 the United Supreme Court actually reasoned that it couldn’t overrule the need for the Miranda warnings because they had “become a part of our national culture.”[1]  Believe it or not, if these rights are not read to you, it doesn’t automatically mean your case should be dismissed.

The purpose of the Miranda rights is so that law enforcement can preserve evidence (any statement or confessions) that can ultimately be used to convict you in a trial.  In other words, after you hear the Miranda Warnings, it’s probably a good clue that law enforcement is about to ask you questions or attempt to elicit information from you that will ultimately be presented as evidence in an attempt to convict you.  It should be noted that if a suspect makes statements when he or she is not both in custody and being interrogated, then the evidence may still be admissible in Court.  There are a number of situations which the Courts have found do not amount to custodial interrogation for the purpose of Miranda warnings (including traffic stops).   

So, what should you do if you don’t want law enforcement and the State to use your statements against you for your ultimate trial?  Your best option is to exercise your rights.  You ALWAYS have the right to remain silent and to hire an attorney.  It is true that not speaking to law enforcement may arouse suspicion, but not talking to law enforcement is the only way to ensure that your statements won’t be used against you in Court.  And believe it or not and contrary to popular belief, the odds of a suspect “talking their way out of it” are usually not very good.

An experienced criminal defense attorney can often get your charges reduced, review your arrest and challenge the state's evidence, and may even be able to have your case dismissed entirely. Whenever you're interacting with the criminal justice system, you shouldn't make a move without consulting a lawyer.

As a law firm founded by a former prosecutor, Ellis Law Offices, P.C. has a unique insight into the system that allows them to effectively defend their clients' rights. Visit their website to learn more, or call (515) 962-9080 to schedule a strategy session with an accomplished OWI attorney today. You can also like them on Facebook for the latest news and updates.


[1] United States v. Dickerson, 530 N.W.2d 428, 443 (2000)

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