They Didn’t Read Me My Rights! Miranda Rights in Texas

Many people charged with criminal offenses have told me “the police didn’t read me my rights” believing this will be a reason to dismiss their case. Unfortunately, the police are not required by law to read a person “their rights” when arresting them.

The “rights” that I am referring to are commonly known as Miranda rights. In the 1966 United States Supreme Court case of Miranda v. Arizona the Court issued a decision stating that person in police custody be read the following prior to being interrogated by the police:
“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to talk to an lawyer and have him present while you are being questioned. If you cannot afford to hire a lawyer, one will be appointed to represent you before any question if you wish. You can decide at any time to exercise these rights and not answer any questions or make any statements. Do you understand these rights I have explained to you? Having these rights in mind, do you wish to talk to us now?”

Further, the arrested person must knowingly waive these rights before any of his statements are admissible in court. Miranda rights affect the admissibility of statements, or evidence obtained as a result of statements, during criminal proceedings against a Defendant. There is no law in Texas that requires the police to read these rights to you before or after you are arrested. However, if a person answer questions while under arrest in police custody and the rights are not read, then the statements, and evidence obtained solely from those statements, are not admissible to be used against them in court. For Miranda rights to apply the following factors must be present;

The evidence must be testimonial. This means Miranda applies to what you say, not what you have in your possession or what you physically do. For example, if you are falling down and vomiting on a video for a DWI case and have a flask of vodka in your pocket, Miranda warnings do not apply. Further, blood samples, because blood is a tangible item and not a statement, is not protected by Miranda. However, if tangible evidence is obtained solely from a non-admissible statement because of a Miranda violation, it is also not admissible in Court. There may be other reasons such as lack of reasonable suspicion or probable cause or valid warrant that could prevent tangible items from being admissible in court.

The statement must have been obtained while the person was in custody. This means that the person is not free to leave from the scene and is under police control. Texas courts have fairly consistently given police some broad leeway in their initial contact with a person as “investigatory” and not being “under arrest” for Miranda purposes. For example, if an officer pulls someone over and asks a few perfunctory questions about where a person has been and how much they have had to drink, Courts interpret that person not to be “under arrest” and the statements admissible without Miranda warnings. Once the citizen accused is deemed “arrested”, any statements made in response to police questioning must be after a valid Miranda warning to be admissible.

The statement must be a product of police interrogation. This means that the statement must be in response to a question asked by the police. If you blurt out “I had ten beers in the last two hours”, that statement would be admissible as it was not a response to a question by the police.

In Texas, our legislature has taken the Miranda decision a step further by specifically requiring Miranda warnings given to those under arrest to be in writing or audio and/or visually recorded. This law requires law enforcement to have objective proof of a citizen accused being properly given the Miranda warning and waiving those rights before any statements are admissible in Court.
Police officers understand that if they read a person their Miranda rights they might actually listen and not make any statements. However, an arrested person may just start talking and make incriminating statements, not in response to police questioning, that are admissible. With the nearly universal usage of video recorders in police vehicles, nearly all arrests and the ride to jail are on tape.
The best advice is that if you find yourself being questioned by police is to simply request a lawyer prior to answering any questions that may incriminate you. Visit baileygalyencriminallaw.com for more information.

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