The police must advise suspects of their "Miranda Rights" - their right to remain silent, their right to an attorney, and the right to an appointed attorney if they are unable to afford counsel - prior to conducting a custodial interrogation. If a suspect is not in police custody (i.e., "under arrest"), the police do not have to warn him of his rights.
The police are very aware of when they have to read suspects their "Miranda Rights." The police will frequently question a suspect, specifically telling the suspect, "You are not under arrest, and are free to go. However, we would like you to answer some questions." After the suspect voluntarily answers questions, and sometimes if he refuses, he is arrested. The questioning, being voluntary and non-custodial, is usually admissible. After arrest, the police may have no interest in further questioning, and thus may not ever read the suspect his "Miranda Rights."
If The Police Don't Read Me My Rights, Can They Still Use My Statement?
Sometimes, a suspect will make voluntary statements after he is arrested. The police do not have to warn suspects not to make voluntary statements, as long as they do not deliberately try to elicit those statements through statements or conduct. Sometimes, suspects will express their surprise at being caught by the police, with statements to the effect of, "You got me." At other times, suspects will try to justify their actions to the police after they are arrested, with statements such as, "I don't know why I did it," or, "The drugs weren't mine - I was carrying them for a friend." Those statements, if made spontaneously by a suspect, will almost always be admissible in court. Additionally, if a statement leads to the discovery of other evidence, even if the statement itself was taken in violation of the Miranda ruling the police may be able to use that evidence.
Can My Silence Be Used Against Me In Court?
When a person chooses to remain silent after receiving his Miranda warnings, that silence cannot be used against him in court. However, if a person has not received his Miranda warnings, and remains silent, it is possible for that "pre-Miranda" silence to be used against him. For example, if a person is arrested for murder, or is told that he is a suspect, a typical innocent person will express disbelief and may even try to present an alibi. It would be unusual for a person to simply remain silent, after being informed that he is being wrongfully charged with murder - even people who know their right to remain silent will often express surprise. A prosecutor may subsequently argue that the "pre-Miranda" silence resulted from the fact that the defendant was not surprised that the police "figured it out."
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