It is no secret to those practicing criminal defense that in the majority of cases we handle the police obtain a waiver of a suspects Miranda rights. What you need to know is, once the police obtain a waiver of such fundamental and important rights Miranda offers no real protection. Once you waive your Miranda rights any statements made are admissible at trial.
Miranda v. Arizona was decided by the United States Supreme Court in 1966. Most non lawyers have a vague reference to this landmark case. We have all heard references to it on television and in the news. But do most people really understand the significance of the case itself? Do most people understand what law enforcement could do before this important decesion was held. The Court decided in Miranda v. Arizona that police must warn people before any in custody interrogation that they have a Fifth Amendment right to remain silent and that any statement they make can be used against them. The rights afforded to people by this decesion do not end there however. The Court also said that any such person detained must be told they have a Sixth Amendment right to consult with a lawyer prior to being interrogated by the police when in custody and counsel will be appointed for them if they can not afford one.
Through the years I have seen many clients utter those famous words to me: "what about the police violating my Miranda rights? My case should be tossed out". Well not quite. Assuming a clear cut Miranda violation exists, the effect of such a violation may or may not help a defendant today. This is because many later decesions by the Court have limited the Miranda decesion and focused its intent on what role a police officers conduct played in getting a confession. Nevertheless, statements obtained in violation of Miranda may be precluded from the States case. Many opportunities for the state to sneak them in exist. For instance, as defense lawyers we often struggle to present our clients story. This becomes troublesome when our client has a prior felony conviction. Once he takes the stand, the jury hears he has a felony background. Although statements taken in violation of Miranda must be precluded, it may not bar use of voluntary statements for impeachment on cross examination if the defenant takes the stand. Other pitfalls remain. At The Law Offices of Randall J. Craig we will be writing about such openings the state can use in the comming months.
If you have been convicted of a crime and made statements to the police you may reach us at www.randalljcraig.com. We handle all sorts of crimes ranging from felony drug offenses domestic violence to burglary. Do not waive your Miranda rights.