Did the Police Forget to Read You Your Rights?
A police officer reading a suspect his or her rights while placing the suspect under arrest is probably the most popular element of criminal procedure. If we were playing Charades or Taboo and I walked up to you and said "You have the right to remain silent," you would instantly know that I was impersonating a police officer and placing you under arrest. Of course, if we were playing charades I would be cheating because you are not allowed to talk in Charades. But that is not the point.The point is that as an Oregon Criminal Defense Lawyer, I get a lot of questions about the consequences of the police failing to read Miranda rights prior to an arrest. A lot of people are under the impression that the mistaken police absolutely have to read you your rights before they can place you under arrest, and that a failure to do so could result in the case getting thrown out of court. Unfortunately, the laws of Oregon criminal procedure and Federal criminal procedure simply do not work this way.
The Police Don't Have to Read Miranda Rights When They Make Arrests
Under Oregon criminal law and Federal criminal law, the truth is that the police are NOT required to read you your Miranda rights prior to placing you under arrest. This doesn't mean that your Miranda rights don't apply when you are arrested. When you are placed under arrest, you always have the following rights:
So why do the police on Law & Order always read the suspect his rights when placing him under arrest? Are there any consequences at all if the police fail to advise a suspect of his rights?
If the Police Fail to Read Miranda Rights, Your Answers To Police Questions Cannot Be Used Against You
Imagine that you are arrested for an DUII in Oregon or Unlawful Possession of Marijuana. The police put handcuffs on you and place you in the back of the police car. You are under arrest. However, the police never read you your rights. On the way to the police station, one of the officers asks you how much you had to drink. Unfortunately, you decide to violate the cardinal rule of dealing with police (remain silent!) and you answer this question: "6 beers" you say. Skip forward three weeks. At this point, the prosecutor has charged you with an Oregon DUII. You have a hired a good Oregon DUI attorney and your case is being prepared for trial. Your criminal defense lawyer calls the prosecutor to discuss the case. During this conversation, the prosecutor says something like this: "Your client admitted to drinking six beers. When the jury hears that, he'll be convicted for sure." Not so fast Ms. Prosecutor. The police never read you your Miranda rights. Therefore, your incriminating answer to the police officer's question cannot be used as evidence against you at your trial. That means the judge won't allow the police officer to testify that you told him you had six beers. The statement will be excluded or "suppressed" from evidence. That is the rule. If the police arrest you, and then question you about a crime, anything you say to them cannot be used as evidence against you unless the police read you your Miranda rights PRIOR to asking the questions. Of course, if you simply volunteer statements to the police, then the rule doesn't apply. For example, if the police were completely quiet and never asked you any questions and you just blurted out "I drank six beers and then drove my car," they can use that statement against you whether they read you your rights or not.
Special Rules Under Oregon Law
Under federal criminal law, the rule that I just described above only applies if you are actually under full arrest. Generally, this means handcuffs or other measures taken to restrain you from moving about freely. So, if a police officer walks up to you on the street and engages you in conversation, anything you say can be used against you regardless of whether he reads you your rights first. Of course, this does not mean you have to answer his questions. You always have the right to remain silent. Nonetheless, if you admit to having marijuana in your backpack before your placed under arrest, you can't, as a matter of Federal law, use the cop's failure to read Miranda rights to keep that statement out of evidence. However, under Oregon law, failure to read Miranda rights may result in exclusion even if you were not under full arrest when you answered the police officers questions. Even if you are not under full arrest, under Oregon law, the police must read you your rights prior to questioning you in "compelling circumstances." What constitutes "compelling circumstances?" Basically, compelling circumstances exist when you are questioned in a police dominated environment where any reasnoable person would not have felt free to leave. Whether compelling circumstances is exist depends on the precise facts of the case. But the point is, just because you were not placed in handcuffs doesn't mean that your statements to police can be used against you if the police never read you your Miranda rights.
In sum, you always have the right to remain silent and your other Miranda rights when you are under arrest. However, the law doesn't require the police to tell you that you have these rights, and if you volunteer information that is not in response to police questioning, these statements can be used against you whether the police read you your rights or not.
For more information on Oregon Criminal Procedure, Oregon Crimes, Oregon DUII, and Oregon Drug Charges, please feel free to surf our website. If you have been arrested, contact an oregon criminal defense lawyer at Castleberry & Elison, P.C. today. We will fight to protect your rights.