You’re driving home late at night and suddenly you start to swerve your car. Maybe you were swatting at a bee or mosquito that snuck in. Maybe you saw a pothole at the last minute. There’s dozens of reasons you might have to swerve.
Suddenly you see a squad car’s flashing lights in your rearview mirror and the cop is gaining on you. You properly turn on your directional signal and pull over to the curb. The officer asks for your license, registration, and proof of insurance. You comply and ask why you were pulled over. The officer may or may not tell you – he or she is not required to at this point.
Next the officer asks a series of questions. Where are you coming from? Have you had anything to drink? If you answer in the affirmative to that last question, you may be asked how much did you have to drink?
Is an officer required to recite your Miranda rights to you at that point?
You are not under arrest. The officer has stopped, or detained, you because of your erratic driving maneuver and the hour of night, he or she has reasonable suspicion you might be driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, including prescription medicine. These are simply “field investigation” questions.
Now change the scenario. Let’s say you actually have been arrested – for DUI or any other crime. Whether the officer actually says the words, “You’re under arrest,” (they usually do but are not required to at that point), you have been handcuffed and put in the back of police car.
Surely the officer is required to give you the Miranda advisal now, right? I mean, that’s what they do on television. Trust me, half of what you see about the law (cops and lawyers) on TV or in movies is wrong!
No, the police are not required to “Mirandize” you just because you have been arrested. In fact, if they never ask you any questions about the crime (name, address, place or birth and other background information is okay), they NEVER have to “Mirandize” you.
But this time you are transported to a police station and taken to a desk or table somewhere and the police start asking you where you were coming from, who was with you, did you have anything to drink, where did you get the gun/drugs/stolen art/forged checks or whatever, in other words, questions about the crime. Now they have to read you the Miranda rights before asking any questions.
According to the U.S. Supreme Court, the police are not required to tell you the Miranda rights unless two things are occurring simultaneously: 1) you are under arrest, and 2) they are asking you any questions (other than the “booking information” mentioned above).
This can all be very confusing to the average person especially when you are angry, frightened, or confused after being arrested. It is why you need a criminal defense attorney at your side and should not answer any questions until you do.
I am an experienced criminal law attorney, available 24 hours a day, to guide you at times like this. Reach me at Rebeccaocainlaw.com or (619) 431-1076.
Rebecca Ocain has been a criminal law trial attorney for over fourteen years.