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What do I do if I’m arrested and my rights aren’t read to me?

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Although it is a common misconception that during any arrest in the United States the police officer will read the suspect their Miranda Rights, this is only strictly necessary if the officer intends to interrogate the suspect.  If you are arrested and questioned without having had your Miranda Rights read to you, however, then legally the arresting officer has made a serious error in protocol and the subsequent court case will probably be altered because of it. 

Normally an arresting officer will prefer to take note of what you say after being arrested so that he or she can use any information gathered at this point as evidence in court.  Suspects have been known to make contradicting statements, to plead guilty right away or to name other guilty parties to avoid taking all the blame on themselves.  Information gathered during arrest is often very useful in securing a conviction because if it can’t be used directly as evidence it normally leads to something or someone that can.  If the Miranda Rights are not read, however, any information gathered during this period must be stricken from the record and fully dismissed by the court.

The reasoning for this goes back to the original case that spawned the Miranda Rights, in which Ernesto Miranda confessed to a crime and was convicted solely based on that confession.  He said that he was unaware he was able to say nothing when placed under arrest that would hurt his chances in court and so based on this miscommunication his conviction was overturned and a new court date had to be set.  Today, when people are arrested, they must be read their rights or anything they say is strictly off the record. 

If you have not been read your rights and yet you have been placed under arrest and questioned by police then you need to speak to a lawyer right away.  The lawyer will know the proper procedures for dealing with such a mistake and also how to ensure that nothing you may have said during the time you were arrested up until someone finally read your rights to you will hold up in court to prosecute you.  It is very important that you deal with a lawyer if you have missed your rights reading because a legal professional is the only person who can sort out what needs to be done to rectify the situation and who knows how to work it to your advantage if need be.

Remember that if you are arrested and questioned, you must have been read your rights.  The only case that doesn’t call for the reading is if you are placed under arrest and not brought in for interrogation.  This is rare if you are being accused of a crime, so keep in mind that you should generally have been read your Miranda Rights.  If not, contact legal aid as soon as possible and always limit what you say to the police until you have spoken to your legal representative. 

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