February 28, 2010 By Wallin & Klarich

There are several instances where an individual may be thinking, “They didn’t read me my rights: my case should get thrown out, right?”

One of the most misunderstood concepts in Southern California criminal law revolves around the “Miranda Rights.”

Most people have heard them all before:

  1. You have the right to remain silent.
  2. Anything you say can be used against you.
  3. You have the right to an attorney present during questioning.
  4. If you can’t afford an attorney, an attorney will be appointed to you at no cost to you.

While the rights are easy enough to understand, the application of the Miranda rule is less clear.

Basically, the purpose of the rule is to keep out any statements a defendant makes under very specific circumstances.

In order for Miranda to apply:

  • a. The defendant must be in custody or the functional equivalent, AND
  • b. There must be an interrogation by a government agent.

Example when Miranda applies:

  1. You’re handcuffed in the back seat of a police car and the cop asks you questions. You answer the questions that the cop asks you. Miranda will apply in this case. Any answers you give can’t come into evidence at trial because you’re in custody and the cop asked you questions.

Examples when Miranda does not apply:

  1. You’re just standing around and an officer walks up to you and casually asks you a question. You make a statement that incriminates you. In this case, your statements will come into evidence because you were not in custody.
  2. You’re handcuffed in the backseat of a police car. The cop starts telling you what the penalties are for the crime the cop wants to charge you with. You get scared and start making incriminating statements. Miranda does not apply here even if you are in custody because the cop never asked a question. The laws make a distinction between a statement and a question.

The moral of the story is simple. The Miranda rule is complicated and it’s best to just keep your mouth shut when you’re not sure what to do.

At Wallin & Klarich, our team of experienced Los Angeles defense lawyers can help you or your loved ones if they have been arrested. We will examine every detail of the incident to see if your Miranda rights have been violated. Call us today at (888) 280-6839 or contact us on the web at www.wklaw.com. We will be there when you call.

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