Are there circumstances where Miranda rights don’t have to be read?

As reviewed in the previous blog, Miranda rights protects one from compelled self-incrimination, but this right is not absolute.  There are certain exceptions to the Miranda rule where police do not have to read you your rights.  This means in any of these situations, police will use what you say against you in the courts processes without reading you your rights:

It does not apply to basic questions.

Police are still allowed to ask you basic questions not related to a suspected crime such as your name, address, etc. When asked these basic questions, it is best to just answer them but provide no more information than the police ask.  If police start asking more substantive questions about your involvement in a crime, etc. respectfully decline and request a lawyer to be present.

It does not apply if a suspect is not in custody.  

It is important to note that police are only required to “Mirandize” a suspect if they intend to interrogate that person under custody.  This means arrests can still occur without the Miranda warning being given (for example, for being drunk in public).  Only if the police later decide to interrogate you and put you in custody (ie. if they suspect that you committed a crime) must they then read you your Miranda rights at that time.

It does not apply when there is an issue of public safety (the public safety exemption).

As illustrated by the 16-hour interrogation of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev regarding his role in the Boston bombings, the public safety exemption may be called upon only in times of “great danger” to the public. Police may proceed to question you without reading you your rights and providing a lawyer for a limited amount of time if they feel you are a threat to public safety, or have information about a crime threatening the public safety.

It does not apply to Terry Stops.

A Terry stop is a police stop based on reasonable suspicion that a person was engaged in criminal activity, but it is short of probably stop to arrest.  Miranda rights generally do not apply to Terry stops or roadside questioning because the suspect is not being taking into custody.

It does not apply if a suspect is unknowingly confessing to an undercover cop.

Undercover cops do not have to identify themselves nor read you your rights.

It does not apply to inmates already incarcerated.

The Supreme Court has held that Miranda rights do not have to be read to inmates when interrogated about crimes unrelated to their current incarceration.  In the case of Howes v. Fields, defendant Randall Lee Fields was denied his motion to suppress his confession of a crime that he committed before he came to prison, because he was not considered to be in “custody” as defined by Miranda v. Arizona. Courts today find it adequate if police make it clear that the inmate is ‘free to leave’ and terminate their investigation.  As such, it is just best to stop talking – even if already incarcerated.

It does not apply to physical evidence.

Miranda rights only apply to testimonial evidence.  If police find a gun with fingerprints on it for example, that is considered real evidence and non-testimonial for the purposes of the Fifth Amendment protection.

San Diego Miranda Rights Lawyer

The Law Offices of David M. Boertje has been aggressively defending people’s constitutional rights for years.  If you feel your confession was coerced or involuntary, our attorneys will go through your case to determine whether your verbal statements can be rendered inadmissible in court.  Alternatively, if you or a loved one has been brought into custody, call us and we will defend your rights.  Our consultations are completely free and confidential.  We can be reached at our San Diego office at (619) 229-1870. You can also contact us at our North County location at (760) 476-0901, or visit us online.