Miranda Rights & How They Effect Your Criminal Case

There probably isn’t a more popular question posed by potential clients than can I get my criminal charge dismissed if the police didn’t read me my rights? The answer to this question is more complex than is often anticipated and this article is intended to clarify this area of the law for you.

If you were arrested by the police without having your rights read to you or interrogated without a Miranda Warning, you definitely want to consult a New Jersey criminal defense lawyer with experience in this area of law. A talented litigator will have the skill to ensure your constitutional right against self-incrimination is fully protected.

The attorneys at our firm, the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall, have extensive experience challenging police questioning and arrests conducted without proper Miranda warnings. Our exceptional qualifications include:

  • A team of 10 attorneys that limit their practice exclusively to defending individuals charged with criminal and serious motor vehicle offenses
  • Over 200 years of combined experience
  • Former County Prosecutors that have served as Director of the Major Crimes Bureau, Drugs Task Force, Domestic Violence, Juvenile, Guns Task Force and even an entire Trial Division
  • Certified criminal trial lawyers

If you were arrested and feel the police violated your rights, the lawyers at our firm certainly possess the know-how to help you. We encourage you to call us at 877-450-8301 for a free initial consultation anytime 24/7.

What Are Miranda Rights?

When someone is “read their rights”, they are supposed to receive an instruction that is referred to as a Miranda Warning. The instruction is intended to place an individual targetted for prosecution on notice that they are being interrogated, have an absolute right to be represented by an attorney and, if they waive these rights and speak to the police, any incriminating statements can be used to convict them. The standard Miranda Warning reads as follows:

You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can be used against you in court. You have the right to talk to a lawyer for advice before we ask you any questions. You have the right to have a lawyer with you during questioning. If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be appointed for you before any questioning if you wish. If you decide to answer questions now without a lawyer present, you have the right to stop answering at any time.

Please note that both Federal and New Jersey law have held that these precise words don’t have to be used in order for someone to be Mirandized. As long as there is a statement in clear and unequivocal terms that the accused has a right to remain silent and be represented by an attorney, the Miranda requirement has been satisfied. Notwithstanding, a savvy criminal defense lawyer like those at our firm can often exploit a failure to read rights to the advantage of a client.

When Are Police Required To Read A Miranda Warning?

The police must read an individual his/her rights before attempting to conduct a “custodial interrogation” outside the presence of a defense attorney. This term means questioning that occurs after a person is in custody or not otherwise free to leave. A general field inquiry by the police, voluntary or spontaneous utterances by a defendant, nor routine investigatory questioning constitute custodial interrogation since none of these scenarios involve someone who is formally in custody. The reason why Miranda is limited in this manner is based on the idea that coercion typically will not occur until the liberty of a defendant has been limited in a material way.

There are numerous factors courts consider in determining whether someone is in custody thereby triggering a right to be Mirandized (i.e. obligation by police to read someone their rights). The court should examine:

  1. The time, place and duration of the detention;
  2. The physical surroundings involved;
  3. The nature and degree of the pressure applied to detain the individual; and
  4. The language and conduct of the police in terms of indicating that the subject is being questioned as a suspect to a criminal offense.

It is essential to keep in mind that formal arrest is not what is pivotal in triggering Miranda and a reading of one’s rights but instead whether the duration and nature of the detention are such that a reasonable person would believe they are in custody.

You need to also know that an individual must be subjected to interrogation while in custody before a Miranda Warning is required.  There isn’t an obligation to read someone their rights unless they are in custody and exposed to the risk of self-incrimination by the police.

Waiving Rights To An Attorney & To Remain Silent

In order for an individual to waive his/her rights and submit to custodial interrogation without an attorney, the waiver must be: (1) knowing; (2) voluntary; and (3) intelligent.  If the state wants to introduce testimony or evidence acquired following a waiver, it must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that each of these elements was met. Incriminatory statements and any evidence discovered as a result therefrom are inadmissible absent proof that each of these elements exists.

New Jersey has adopted a totality of the circumstances test for determining whether a waiver was voluntary, that is, freely given without coercion. In determining the voluntariness of a waiver, a court should consider the age, education, and intelligence of the defendant, advice given by police as to constitutional rights, length of the detention, duration of questioning, physical impediments, and the condition of the defendant.

An individual’s waiver of his/her right against self-incrimination must also be knowing and intelligently made. What this contemplates is that the defendant knows that he has a constitutional right to refuse to answer questions of the police. Law enforcement must establish that they made the accused fully aware of the right to reject interrogation and speak to a lawyer and that they chose, in the face of a clear understanding of these rights, to speak to the police.

Procedure For Determining Whether Miranda Rights Were Violated

An individual may challenge a statement in a pretrial proceeding referred to as a Miranda Hearing. The purpose of the proceeding is to determine whether a statement made during custodial interrogation was voluntarily and intelligently given. If the judge presiding over the hearing concludes that these requirements have not been met, statements and any evidence derived from this information are admissible against the accused. If the court finds that the Miranda rights of the accused were violated because of failure to advise of a right to a lawyer and against self-incrimination, then the confession and any evidence flowing from this information are excluded and suppressed; they cannot be used to convict the accused.

What Happens If Miranda Rights Are Violated?

The state is unable to utilize a confession that was obtained in violation of an individual’s Miranda rights. This exclusion applies when someone is interrogated without a proper waiver.  In addition,  all fruits of the poisonous tree must also be suppressed from the criminal case.  What this means is that not only the illegally obtain statement but any evidence uncovered as a result of the information provided therein is precluded. For example, if you admitted during an improper interrogation that you possessed drugs and also identified where more were located or where a firearm was hidden, the police would be precluded from using the confession, drugs, or gun to prove charges. All evidence and fruits of the improper interrogation are barred from use in the criminal case.

Can My Criminal Charge Be Dismissed For Failure To Provide A Miranda Warning?

Unfortunately, a criminal offense isn’t automatically dismissed when someone’s rights are violated in this manner. When someone is illegally interrogated their statement is barred from use by the prosecutor. If the elimination of this evidence (e.g. confession) destroys the prosecutor’s case, then failure to read your rights effectively results in a dismissal. If the state has independent evidence outside of your statement to prosecute, then the case will not be dismissed.

Examples of Miranda Violations

There are certain scenarios that have been interpreted by New Jersey Courts as violative of Miranda. The following are fact patterns that constitute a violation of your rights:

  1. Failure of the police or prosecutor to advise a defendant that his attorney is present
  2. Failure to advise the defendant of an arrest warrant prior to questioning
  3. Fabricating the existence of evidence to coerce a confession
  4. Interrogation of a juvenile who is under 14 years old outside the presence of their parent or guardian
  5. Communications by police or prosecutors with a defendant who is represented without consent of his/her attorney
  6. Questioning after the defendant is in custody that is not preceded by Miranda warnings

Contact Our New Jersey Miranda Rights Attorneys

Miranda violations are a regrettable tactic by police that our NJ criminal defense lawyers encounter almost every day. A slew of methods are utilized by law enforcement to try to circumvent a defendant’s right to consult an attorney before interrogation. If your rights were violated in this manner, you need a Miranda defense lawyer that can correct this wrong.

Contact the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall any time of day or night to discuss your case. One of our highly accomplished attorneys is ready to provide a comprehensive consultation so that all of the issues, including any constitutional violations surrounding your arrest, can be fully explored. We will also advise you how we can challenge the conduct of police so that your criminal charges are minimized or possibly eliminated.

Call 877-450-8301 for immediate assistance from a lawyer on our team.