The United States Supreme Court came to the decision that the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution forbade prosecutors from using a person’s statements made in response to interrogation in police custody as evidence at their trial unless they can prove the person was informed of their right to consult with a criminal defense attorney before and during questioning, and the person not only understood their rights but also voluntarily waived them, in the landmark case of Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966). Miranda had an immediate impact on law enforcement throughout the United States, making the Miranda warning a matter of routine for police procedure and the practice becoming known as “Mirandizing.”

Arrest and Miranda Rights in Appleton, WI

It is far from uncommon to see police officers issuing Miranda warnings in many scripted dramas such as television shows and movies, but the truth is that the use of the Miranda warning is actually a bit more complex in real life. When a person has reason to believe their Miranda rights were violated during a recent arrest, it will be important for them to consult quickly with an experienced Wisconsin criminal defense lawyer.

Miranda Rights

The Miranda warning is a kind of notification usually given by police officers to criminal suspects who are in police custody or custodial interrogations that advise them of their right to silence and, thus, protection from self-incrimination. It gives people a right to refuse to answer questions or provide information to law enforcement officers or other officials.

The language used in most Miranda warnings is derived from Miranda v. Arizona, although the specific language used in warnings can vary between jurisdictions. A warning is generally deemed adequate as long as a person’s rights are properly disclosed so any waiver of the rights by the alleged offender is knowing, voluntary, and intelligent.

A Miranda warning is often phrased 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.”

When Miranda Rights Apply

Miranda rights typically apply when a person is placed in police custody and is subject to interrogation by law enforcement officers. There are certain exceptions to this rule, however.

Miranda rights will not need to be read to a person if they voluntarily speak with police officers outside of custody, such as at a person’s home. Miranda rights also do not need to be read to a person if they make an unprompted statement during a routine police interaction, like while providing identification during a routine traffic stop.

When Miranda rights do apply but are not read, any statements made by an alleged offender will not be admissible as evidence in any proceedings against the alleged offender. Statements could include any full confession if a person was not informed of their rights, although getting statements excluded from a criminal case can require motions to such effect by an attorney for the alleged offender.

An officer does not have to read a person their Miranda rights unless they are in custody. In custody generally means situations in which a person cannot leave or does not reasonably feel as though they can leave.

If a police officer stops a person and asks them if they are free to go and the police officer says yes, they are not in custody. It will also mean a police officer can question a person without reading them their Miranda rights.

Interrogation typically means questioning that might result in incriminating responses. If a police officer asks a person for their name, it is not an interrogation because simply stating a name does not incriminate people.

If police officers detain a person or place them in custody and begin asking questions about where they were when a crime took place, the answers may be incriminating, and they will need to be read their Miranda rights before an interrogation begins. Again, Miranda rights only apply when a person is both in custody and about to undergo interrogation.

A police officer who has not placed a person in custody can question them and use the answers against the person without reading them their Miranda rights. What a person says while not in custody can be used against them in court.

Recent Changes to Miranda Law

Berghuis v. Thompkins, 560 U.S. 370 (2010) was another landmark decision by the Supreme Court of the United States in which a suspect who understood their right to remain silent under Miranda v. Arizona and was aware of their right to remain silent but did not explicitly invoke or waive the right. The Court held that unless and until a criminal suspect actually states that they are relying on their right(s), subsequent voluntary statements can be used in court, and police can continue to interact with or question them.

The simple act of remaining silent was, on its own, insufficient to imply the suspect invoked their rights, and a voluntary reply after a long silence can be construed as implying a waiver. Berghuis was largely viewed as a great erosion of the rights enshrined under Miranda because more alleged offenders can now be placed under greater pressure and, even with an understanding of their rights, might be more easily coerced in a manner prejudicial to their interests.

In North Carolina v. Butler, 441 U.S. 369 (1979), the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that a waiver of Miranda rights can be implied through an alleged offender’s silence, coupled with an understanding of their rights and a course of conduct indicating waiver. The court held that where a Miranda warning had been provided and was understood by the alleged offender, an uncoerced statement established an implied waiver of the right to remain silent.

United States v. Johnson, 76 F. Supp. 538, 540 (D. Pa. 1947), was a Pennsylvania District Court case in which the court held that:

“The privilege against self-incrimination is neither accorded to the passive resistant nor the person who is ignorant of his rights nor to one indifferent thereto. It is a fighting clause. Its benefits can be retained only by sustained combat. It cannot be claimed by an attorney or solicitor. It is valid only when insisted upon by a belligerent claimant in person.”

Contact Our Appleton Criminal Defense Lawyers Today

If you believe that law enforcement officers breached your Miranda rights during a recent arrest in Wisconsin, you should not hesitate to seek legal help with your criminal case. The attorneys at Hogan Eickhoff has handled scores of these kinds of cases and will help you explore your legal rights to defend yourself in court.

Our firm maintains a commitment to helping every alleged offender fight to get criminal charges reduced or completely dismissed, and we will work tirelessly to help you achieve the most favorable possible outcome to your criminal case. Call (920) 450-9800 or contact us online to take advantage of a free consultation.