Working With Great General Attorneys

When Is A Miranda Warning Warranted?

by Maurice Moore

The Miranda warning was conceived as a way of informing suspects of their rights to have legal counsel present when they are questioned by law enforcement. Plenty of gray areas exist, though, when a warning should be provided but isn't. Read on and learn more about custodial situations where a warning might be warranted.

Are You Being Questioned In or Out of Custody?

It shouldn't be that difficult to ascertain the question of custody – but things can get murky sometimes. Law enforcement is well within their rights to question people about crimes. Some of those people could end up being charged with a crime, however, and they may not have been read their rights until later on. In most cases, all people being questioned about a criminal matter should be read their rights before anything else happens. Law enforcement is sometimes reluctant to give citizens who they want to question their Miranda warning. It has an understandably chilling effect on how forthcoming some might be. On the other hand, if they fail to give a Miranda warning, anything said might not be admissible in court.

Is It Custodial Questioning?

Another complicating factor is the question of custody. If you are being casually questioned on the street as a witness, is that custodian questioning? If so, you should be read your rights. Many people are questioned at the scene of a crime and never give it a second thought. After all, don't most people want to assist law enforcement? If you are ever questioned by law enforcement, keep in mind that you don't necessarily have to be in a locked room, in handcuffs, or prevented from leaving for it to be considered "in custody". There is not one particular element that makes up the issue of custody but rather a totality of the circumstances.

Custodial Circumstances

When it comes to deciding whether or not you were questioned while in custody, details matter. Some common threads are present to determine the issue of custody or not. Among them are things like coercion, intimidation, location, and more. The person performing the questioning matters too. For example, if you were questioned by a uniformed officer, that might be more likely interpreted as custodial questioning than if you were questioned by an apparently unarmed plainclothes officer.

If you believed yourself to be in custody and were not read your Miranda warning, your statements cannot be used to convict you. That matters a lot if you end up being arrested. Speak to a criminal defense lawyer about the circumstances of your questioning at once.