Any episode of Law and Order, and every other cop show out there will bellow them out. “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?” There is another part of Miranda rights that are often left out, yet implied which is if you choose to speak without an attorney present, you do have the right to stop the interview at any time.

However, is it true that if you are arrested police MUST give you those rights at the time of the arrest? The answer is no. If and when you are arrested, the police only have to give you those rights if they plan on using whatever your answers are, as direct evidence of your guilt. The part that is true of course is the timing of when these rights are read to you.

If an officer wants to interrogate you, it doesn’t matter the physical location. It could be at your front door, on the side of the street, the back of the police car or even at the station. Nothing you say prior to being read your rights can be used to incriminate you at a trial to determine your guilt. If you have not been placed in police custody, your rights do not need to be stated. There are also a few other exceptions to the Miranda rights rule. One is called the emergency exception to the Miranda Rule. This exception allows for scenarios where the public may be at risk if the officer does not obtain vital information quickly enough.

As a rule of thumb, if you are arrested and taken into police custody, the only time the police can ask you specific questions that could be incriminating is during the booking process because those questions are not meant to draw out a specific answer that may be incriminating; those questions are answered by all people being booked into jail. If you are only a “suspect” you don’t have the right to an attorney and don’t necessarily need to have been read your Miranda rights. Once you have been arrested and are in police “custody”, to be questioned, you will need your rights read.

I often get calls from people who think that they can have their criminal charges in Illinois thrown out because the Miranda rights weren’t read.  Hopefully you realize from this post that they are incorrect and it’s a terrible strategy for defending a case. I’ve talked to people who went in front of a Judge alone as they were confident this argument would set them free.  Some made the Judge laugh, others pissed the Judge off and only made their case worse.  You don’t want to have that happen to you.  Blaming that you are uninformed because you watch too much TV won’t get you out of trouble.