Custodial Interrogation

There are many people who are under the mistaken assumption that if the police officer does not read the Miranda Warning, their criminal charges may be dismissed by the court. This is not always true. The Miranda Warning was designed to protect the suspect from being questioned or interrogated against his or her will. In the past, there were concerns that law enforcement agents were too aggressive and/or intimidating during the interrogation and this in turn scared the suspect into confessing to a crime that he or she did not commit.

If a suspect is arrested for a crime and makes a voluntary statement to the officer, it may still be used as evidence in court. However, the prosecution must prove that the statement was made willingly and was not coerced. Additionally, if the police can prove that they would have discovered evidence without the suspect’s help, the information may be used.

If you are read your Miranda Warning, it is a sign that the police are going to conduct an interrogation and may intend to use your answers as evidence during a trial. However, you may be questioned before the Miranda Warning is read if the police are concerned for the immediate safety of others. The answers to these questions may be used against you. For example, if the officer is concerned that you are armed, he or she may ask if you have a weapon on you before informing you of your rights.

The Miranda Warning was created to inform you of your Fifth Amendment rights, which says that you cannot “be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against” yourself. It also informs you are your right to remain silent to avoid making a self-incriminating statement.

Sometimes refusing to answer questions or take tests looks suspicious. If you do not feel comfortable answering questions, you should request to have a lawyer present before being interrogated.

During a custodial interrogation, officers are not allowed to intimidate or coerce you into answering questions. While some verbal pressure is allowed, if you are bullied into giving making self-incriminating statements, the information will be inadmissible at trial.

If your Miranda Warning was read and you waived your rights in order to answer questions without your lawyer present, you can change your mind at any point by pleading the Fifth or requesting to have a lawyer present.