My Miranda Rights and Custodial Interrogations

Many times, when I have a new client come in to discuss their case with me, they tell me that they know they screwed up because they talked to the police and admitted to something bad. Now sometimes that person did dig a deeper hole for themselves – and sometimes not. Here’s why.

When you are questioned by the police while in their custody, that’s called a custodial interrogation – when you don’t feel free to leave and they ask you questions about a criminal investigation. It’s before these “custodial interrogations” that police must read you your Miranda Rights – not when they arrest you.

Most times my clients will tell me that they were read their rights, but still talked to police. Well, that’s not the end of it. Even if you waived your Miranda Rights (i.e., still talked to police), you still have the opportunity to reassert them – or to ask questions concerning them! For example, let’s say the officer reads you your rights and you still talk to him. After a little while, you ask about your rights. What then? Case law holds that “if, at any point during the custodial interrogation, a suspect asks a clear question concerning his or her rights, the officer must stop the interview and make a good-faith effort to give a simple and straightforward answer.” State v. Glatzmayer, 789 So. 2d 520 (Fla. 2001).

So if you ask, “can I have a lawyer now?” The officer must stop the interrogation and give you a simple, good-faith answer. If not, anything they learn subsequent to your question will probably not be admissible in court. That includes anything they find in a subsequent search of your person, car or home. This is a powerful argument that is based on relatively new case law. If you’re charged with possession of marijuana or cocaine and you get that evidence thrown out, guess what? Your case will most likely have to be dismissed!


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