Can My Charges Be Dismissed If the Officer Did Not Mirandize Me in North Carolina?
On behalf of Randall & Stump, PLLC in Criminal Defense on Wednesday, February 23, 2022
You hear about them all the time on TV or in movies, but how much do you really know about your Miranda rights? Are they always required? And if the officer forgets to explain them, does that mean you automatically go free?
In short – no. However, your Miranda rights are some of your most important constitutional protections because if you don’t take advantage of them, you may give the police evidence that can lead to your conviction.
Where Do Miranda Rights Come From?
The U.S. Supreme Court, in Miranda v. Arizona (1966), ruled that detained suspects must be informed of their constitutional rights to an attorney and against self-incrimination before police questioning.
The court stated this duty comes from the Fifth Amendment, which gives suspects the right to refuse “to be a witness against himself,” and the Sixth Amendment, which provides criminal defendants the right to an attorney.
The defendant was Ernesto Miranda, who was arrested in Arizona in 1963 for rape, kidnapping, and robbery. Police claimed that he confessed during interrogation. Miranda didn’t have an attorney present, wasn’t told of his rights, and the evidence presented at his trial was his confession. He was sentenced to 20 to 30 years in prison but successfully appealed his case.
What Must Police Tell Me in North Carolina?
If police detain you and before you can be questioned, an officer must read to you or tell you of your Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights that:
- You have the right to remain silent
- Anything you say can be used against you in a court of law
- You have a right to have an attorney present
- If you cannot afford a lawyer, one can be appointed to you.
You should take advantage of these rights because if you don’t, the consequences could change the course of your life.
Why are Miranda Rights Important?
A 2009 survey of college undergraduate students and pretrial criminal defendants in Texas and Oklahoma found that 31% of the defendants and 36% of the college students falsely believed their silence could be used against them at a trial. Many other respondents incorrectly thought a police interrogation could continue after a suspect asks for an attorney and waits for them to arrive.
The prosecutor has the burden of proving that you committed the criminal charge you face beyond a reasonable doubt. You have no obligation to say or do anything that will help them put you in jail. You do have a right to remain silent, and if you talk, what you say can be used against you.
Ignoring these rights and answering questions without an attorney could make convicting you easier and your defense more difficult. If you were properly given your Miranda warnings but chose to ignore them, depending on what you said, there may be little a defense attorney can do to help you.
When Are Miranda Warnings Given?
Miranda rights are connected to custodial interrogations, not arrests. If the police put you in custody and you’re not free to leave, you must be read your rights before you can be questioned.
If there’s enough evidence to arrest you without being interrogated, they may not inform you of your rights. If they want to question you after your arrest, they should read your rights.
Do I Have These Rights Before I’m Told of Them?
Miranda rights exist at all times during your interaction with the police. You have them because of the Constitution, not because the police tell you about them.
Even if the police don’t remind you of them, you should use your rights. Invoke your right to remain silent by clearly, politely, and unambiguously telling a police officer that you are invoking your rights and refuse to answer any questions before or while you’re detained.
You should also clearly say you wish to speak with an attorney. You should have the ability to contact someone. Call a lawyer directly or a trusted family member or friend who can call one for you.
What If I’m Interrogated Without Being Read My Rights?
If the police question you after you are taken into custody and arrested, but you were not Mirandized, your answers are not admissible evidence and should not be used at trial. No matter how damaging your statements, without being told your rights, your attorney should ask the judge to exclude what you said. If the motion’s granted, the jury will never hear about it.
Will My Case Be Dismissed If I’m Not Read My Miranda Rights?
If your statements are excluded from evidence, it may or may not result in dismissed charges. It depends on how much the prosecution’s case relies on what you said.
When the prosecutor has very little evidence other than the suppressed evidence, a judge may grant a motion to dismiss. The prosecution may continue with the charge or file lesser charges because they lost that evidence.
If a case has Miranda problems, but not enough to put you in the clear, it may be an excellent opportunity to use your negotiating leverage to agree to a favorable plea agreement and resolve the issue.
What If I’ve Been Detained or Arrested in North Carolina?
To learn more about the consequences of not being read your Miranda rights after an arrest, contact the Charlotte criminal defense attorneys at Randall & Stump, Criminal Defense Attorneys, right away. We will scrutinize each step of your stop, arrest, and interrogation to determine if the police violated the law, and if so, how this impacts your criminal case.