Supreme Court

Wasn’t the officer supposed to read me my Miranda Rights?

     The Miranda Rights, more appropriately stated as “Miranda Warnings”, are a topic we hear about often. What they are has been misrepresented thousands of times, and often we see the illusion that every cop has to be constantly reading those rights from a little paper card.  That’s just plain false.  It’s important to understand what the Miranda Rights are when they’re required, and what happens when rules are not followed.

What are the Miranda Rights?


     The Miranda requirement is a rule of evidence, nothing more. Miranda is not a rule of arrest, a rule of conviction, or necessarily a case dismissing requirement. An experienced attorney will analyze your case and if appropriate, bring a motion to suppress any statements you made if the Miranda rule was not followed. You can absolutely be charged, tried, and convicted even if you never hear the officer state the Miranda Warnings.

Why are they called “Miranda Rights”?

     Thank Ernesto Miranda, it’s his namesake on your Miranda Rights. Ernesto was a 24-year-old high school dropout in 1966 when he was charged with several serious felonies in Arizona. Convicted at trial, his lawyers appealed the case all up to the US Supreme Court. The Court remanded the case back to the trial court for a retrial, holding that his confession was improperly admitted. Hence, his statements could not be used at his new trial. Unfortunately for old Ernesto, he lost that new trial too. He was paroled in 1975 however and stabbed to death in a bar fight just a month after being released. Things didn’t turn out well for Ernesto, but we thank him for the case law.

     The Supreme Court ruled that in order to use a confession while in custody, the defendant must be aware of certain rights. The court then listed out those rights. Following the decision, police departments prepared and reprinted those rights (warnings) for use by nearly every officer in the country.

What happens if the Officer Failed to Read the Miranda Rights? 

     Violation of the “Miranda Warnings” means that those warnings were not read prior to the defendant making statements pursuant to interrogation, while the defendant was in custody. Custodial Interrogation is the key. If it is not proven that the rights were stated to the accused before the statement, then the statement cannot be used at trial. Hence, to use a statement of the accused pursuant to questioning, while in custody at trial, the Miranda warning must have been read. Rule: In custody + questioning + statement made + no warnings being read = Not to be used in trial.

Can My Case Be Dismissed If The Miranda Rights Were Not Read?

     It didn’t happen to Ernesto, it might not happen for you either. In such a trial where a confession was given in violation of Miranda, the confession is not presented to the Jury as evidence. If all of the other evidence is enough though, then they may still convict, even without hearing those statements (confession). On the other hand, if the confession was the only evidence, then it is doubtful that the prosecutor would proceed to trial. If so, however, you’d have a good case.

What Are The Miranda Rights?

  • You have the right to remain silent.
  • Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.
  • You have the right to an attorney.
  • If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you.
  • Do you understand the rights I have just read to you?
  • With these rights in mind, do you wish to speak to me?




Markwell Law, LLC
1031 Peruque Crossing Ct, Ste. B
O’Fallon, MO 63366
Phone: 636-486-1093
Fax: 636-634-3462

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About the author 

Guss Markwell

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