failure to provide Miranda Warnings


So, let us say you were arrested and there was a failure to provide Miranda Warnings. What happens? The law requires the informing of a person of their Miranda rights when in-custody and subject to in-terrogation. Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S. Ct. 1602, 16 L. Ed. 2d 694 (1966). In Miranda, the United States Supreme Court enunciated a bright line rule to guard against compulsion and the coercive nature and atmosphere of custodial interrogation, “and assure[s] that the individual’s right to choose between silence and speech remains unfettered throughout the interrogation process.” Ramirez v. State, 739 So. 2d 568, 573 (Fla. 1999) citing Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S. Ct. 1602. Miranda requires that police inform suspects that they have the right to remain silent, and, “that anything they do say can, and will, be used against them in court of law.” Id. Furthermore, sus-pects must be told that they have the right to an attorney and if they cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for them.

Custody for the purposes of Miranda includes not only a formal arrest but also a restraint on the free-dom of movement that is associated with a formal arrest. McDougle v. State, 828 So. 2d 454 (Fla. 4th DCA 2002). The test for determining custody is whether “a reasonable person in the defendant’s posi-tion would believe that his freedom of action was curtailed to the degree associated with an actual arrest.” Ramirez v. State, 739 So. 2d 568, 574 (Fla. 1999). In determining whether a reasonable per-son would consider himself to be “in custody,” a court should consider four factors. These factors in-clude:

“(1) the manner in which police summon the suspect for questioning; (2) the purpose, place, and manner of the interrogation; (3) the extent to which the suspect is confronted with evidence of his or her guilt; (4) whether the suspect is informed that he or she is free to leave the place of question-ing.” Id. at 374; Louis v. State, 855 So. 2d 253, 255 (Fla. 4th DCA 2003); Pollard v. State, 780 So. 2d 1015, 1017 (Fla. 4th DCA 2001).

The Miranda safeguards come into play whenever subjecting a person in custody to either express questioning or its functional equivalent. The term “interrogation” under Miranda refers not only to express questioning, but also to any words or actions on the part of the police (other than those nor-mally attendant to arrest and custody) that the police should know are reasonably likely to elicit an incriminating response from the suspect. Rhode Island v. Innis, 446 U.S. 291, 301-31, 100 S. Ct. 1682 (1980). The latter portion of this definition focuses primarily upon the perceptions of the suspect, ra-ther than the intent of the police. Id. This focus reflects the fact that the intent of the Miranda safe-guards is to vest a suspect in custody with an added measure of protection against coercive police practices, without regard to objective proof of the underlying intent of the police. A practice that the police should know is reasonably likely to evoke an incriminating response from a suspect thus amounts to interrogation.

See also Traylor v. State, 596 So. 2d 957, 966 (Fla. 1992)(an “[i]interrogation takes place… when a person is subjected to express questions, or other words or ac-tions, by a state agent, that a reasonable person would conclude are designed to lead to an incrimi-nating response”).

An officer’s act of interjecting questions while “carrying on a conversation” with a defendant qualifies as “interrogation” for Miranda purposes and failure to give warnings requires re-versal of trial court’s denial of motion to suppress. Larson v. State, 753 So. 2d 733 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2000).

Thus, a law enforcement officer’s failure to provide Miranda rights to a person in custody that is be-ing questioned likely results in the suppression of any statements made by that person in response to the questioning.

If you have been detained or arrested and the law enforcement officer asked you questions without advising you of your Miranda rights, any responses you provided should be suppressed, making them inadmissible in Court.

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