Most people believe the police have to "read you your rights" every time you are arrested, and if they don't, it's a big deal. The purpose of the warnings is to ensure you don't have to talk to them if you don't want to. If they don't give you those warnings before questioning, whatever you say can't be used against you. However, if the police aren't going to question you, there is no reason to read you your rights.

At least once a week, I have somebody who comes into the office, and one of the first things they want to say is they want to tell us that they weren't read their rights.

People believe that that's significant because after all, every time you see anybody pulled over, or hauled in for questioning, on TV, the first thing the police always do is read them their rights. And you've heard it a thousand times, you have the right to remain silent. You have the right to talk to a lawyer, you have the right to stop the interview.

Those are all rights that are called Miranda rights, and that's because the case that held that those rights must be read is a case called Miranda vs. Arizona. The Supreme Court, way back years ago, in that case, held that before you can be interrogated in a custodial situation, the police have to read you your rights, and they have to tell you those things.

The key part of that is that that only applies to situations where you're in custody, or you're restrained , and the police are questioning you. If they're not questioning you, if they're not asking you questions, then they don't have to read you your rights. In other words, if they arrest you for something such as maybe a theft charge or an assault charge, they simply arrest you and take you to jail, they don't have to read you your rights, unless they're gonna question you.

The remedy for not reading someone their rights isn't that you get your case dismissed. It means that anything that you tell 'em can't be used. So even if the police don't read your rights to you, and that's determined to be a violation, it's not gonna get you out of the case. It's not gonna get your case dismissed or thrown out of court. All it's gonna do is get the statements that you made thrown out or an instruction that they can't be used. That may be significant but more often than not the police have other evidence, so you're still going to have to proceed to defend the charge against you.

If you have any other questions that you would like to have answered, please reach our Waco criminal defense lawyer You can send me an email at [email protected], and we'll be happy to answer any questions that you have. 

Walter Reaves
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Criminal Defense Attorney Walter Reaves has been practicing law for over 35 years.