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Miranda – When DO law enforcement officers have to read you your rights?

A typical Miranda warning includes the following advisements: “You have the right to remain silent.  Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.  You have the right to an attorney.  If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you.  Do you understand these rights?”

 

Many people have the misconception that law enforcement must mirandize you before engaging in any sort of conversation with you but, unfortunately, that just isn’t the case.  Under the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Miranda v. Arizona, a law enforcement officer is only required to “mirandize you” (i.e. read you your rights) if you (1) are in custody and (2) are being interrogated.  But what does that mean?

 

The Supreme Court of Virginia has laid out ground rules for determining when a person is in custody.  In short, the question becomes: would a reasonable person have felt free to leave?  If a reasonable person would NOT have felt free to leave, the person was in custody for purposes of Miranda.  The Court considers the following factors in determining whether a person is in custody: (1) whether a suspect is questioned in familiar or neutral surroundings, (2) the number of police officers present, (3) the degree of physical restraint, and (4) the duration and character of the interrogation.  The Court has also noted that the language used by the officer, physical surroundings of interrogation, duration of detention and degree of pressure applied may be significant factors in determining whether an individual is “in custody.”  In terms of interrogation, the Court has indicated that a person can be interrogated by (1) express questioning AND (2) words or actions on the part of law enforcement officers that they should have known were likely to elicit an incriminating response.

 

If you were questioned while in custody WITHOUT being read your Miranda rights and were subsequently charged with a crime, you want the Loudoun Lawyers to represent you.  With over fifty-five years of combined experience in handling criminal defense, we know how best to represent you and protect you if your rights have been violated.

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