When Should Miranda Warnings be Read? (2/3)May 1, 2011
It gets confusing as to when law enforcement is actually required to read someone their Miranda rights and unfortunately what makes for good television is not always reality.
Miranda warnings are not required until and unless the defendant is “in custody”. However, “in custody” can be a grey area. A person is considered “in custody” when an objectively reasonable person in their position would not feel free to walk away from the questioning. Some examples of “in custody” would include being handcuffed and placed under arrest or, in some circumstances, being brought to the police station for questioning. If you are “in custody,” police officers are required to read to you your Miranda rights before asking any questions.
Generally, police officers are allowed to stop anyone on the street and detain them temporarily for investigative purposes if they have a reasonable suspicion. This includes both pedestrians and motor vehicles. Miranda warnings are not required when a person is only temporarily detained. Additionally, police officers are allowed to pat people down without giving Miranda warnings. The reason is simple: when the police are investigating and have stopped someone to talk to them, they have a right to check for dangerous weapons for their own safety. In some extreme safety situations, the officer can handcuff the defendant and the defendant still not legally be “in custody”.
Very often, officers will not even read Miranda at all because they have no intent on interviewing the defendant after the arrest. On many charges, the criminal investigation is over once the arrest occurs and many officers feel they already have sufficient evidence to convict. So long as no “in custody interrogation” occurs, then Miranda would not apply, even if Rights are never read. We see this occur frequently in Georgia DUI arrests. Most of the investigation has already occurred by the time a suspect is arrested for DUI and therefore Miranda warnings are not necessary as the investigation has been completed.
For more information on Miranda, please see our other articles: “’They didn’t read me my rights!’ – The Reality of Miranda (1/3)” and “The Rights Contained in Miranda (3/3).”
About the author: John Breakfield is a Georgia Lawyer with Breakfield & Associates, Attorneys in Gainesville, Georgia and handles various Miranda Rights and Georgia Criminal Defense matters. The law office of Breakfield & Associates, Attorneys can assist clients throughout Georgia including: Hall County (Gainesville, Oakwood, Flowery Branch), Jackson County (Jefferson, Braselton) White County (Helen, Cleveland), Lumpkin County (Dahlonega), Dawson County (Dawsonville), Habersham County (Demorest, Cornelia), and all of Northeast Georgia.
This article and video should not be considered nor relied upon as legal advice since it is only intended for general overview and informational purposes. Please consult with an attorney on your specific situation in order to determine an appropriate legal course of action.