Miranda Rights Read at Time of Arrest

Question: Do Miranda rights have to be read at the time of arrest?

Answer: It is a common misperception among the public that if the Miranda rights are not read then their arrest is somehow invalid. In other words, they believe that they can get out of their charge simply because the Miranda rights were not read, as if it’s some sort of “get out of jail free” card. It’s important for people who are accused of crimes to understand that the Miranda rights only apply in the context of statements made by the defendant that the prosecutor wishes to use against them as part of their criminal case. If a statement is made to the police and it’s inculpatory, meaning it suggests that the crime was committed—or, more specifically, the person admits to having committed the crime—that statement, generally speaking, cannot be used against a person at trial unless the Miranda rights were read first.

There are exceptions to that rule, for example if a statement is made that admits to the crime that was not made in response to a question; it’s a extemporaneous statement made because the person is nervous or is not made directly in response to a question. So if the police were driving you back to the station in a drunk driving case and one police officer said to another, “I can’t believe how drunk this guy was. What was he thinking?” And the person in the backseat upon hearing that then says, “I only had 10 drinks, I wasn’t drunk.” That statement can be admitted even though the Miranda rights weren’t read because it was not made in direct response to a question.

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