Our Miranda Rights - Everything about Miranda Rights by Dr.Bethel Erastus-Obilo



According to the FBI, the strength of the Miranda decision is its clarity and in its unwavering protection of a suspect’s Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination. Thus, the Supreme Court recognizes only one exception to the rule – “the public safety exception.”

This exception, it has been argued, allows law enforcement to engage in a limited and focused unwanted interrogation and allows the government to introduce the statement as direct evidence.28 This exception owes its origin to the case of Quarles29 which provides a framework that police officers can use to asses a particular situation, determine whether the exception is available and ensure that their questioning remains within the scope of the rule. The rationale for the decision in this case is public safety concerns.

However, there are other exceptions to Miranda as follows:

Attorney Waivers.30 If a suspect is talking to police after having waived his right to have an attorney present and the suspect's lawyer has called the police to indicate a desire to advise his client not to talk, the police are under no obligation to inform the suspect of his lawyer's wishes.

Booking Procedures:31 Miranda is not required if standard police procedures are being followed, specifically booking procedures, where a suspect is fingerprinted and photographed.

Delayed Warnings.32 If a suspect confesses right away prior to receiving Miranda warnings but is later given warnings at the police station and confesses, the initial statements may not be used, but the later confession can be used. The failure to give warnings right way does not invalidate later interrogations.

Derivative Evidence.33 Applies if suspect has not been Mirandized and asserts an alibi defense in response to police questioning. If police check out the alibi, and it, or the witness leads from it, lead to incriminating information against the suspect, it can be used against them. The reliability of any witness's testimony is not affected by Miranda violations.

Illegal search and seizure.34 If the police unlawfully enter a home and illegally make an arrest but then take the suspect to the police station, read him his rights, and he confesses, the illegal search and seizure do no taint the subsequent legal confession.

Impeachment.35 Impeachment is the in-trial process of destroying a witness' credibility. The law allows an illegally obtained confession to be admitted at trial if the defendant testifies on their own behalf. This is to show that the defendant committed perjury. Also, silence at the time of police interrogation is a presumption of guilt if the defendant later attempts a defense strategy of self-defense at trial. This is because if self-defense was the motive, it would have been reasonable for the defendant to tell the police about it.

Independent Evidence.36 If an inmate is under threat of physical attack by other prisoners and a fellow inmate, in reality an undercover officer, promises to protect him in return for the truth, the confession is coerced because of the threat of physical attack, but the conviction need not be overturned if sufficient independent evidence supporting a guilty verdict is introduced.

Private Security.37 Talking to a probation officer, a private detective (perhaps one hired by the victim's family), or any private law enforcement official does not involve Miranda at all. Even the most outrageous conduct of private actors cannot violate a suspect's Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

Purged Taint.38 A confession obtained following an unlawful arrest is admissible if the “taint” caused by the police illegality is somehow “purged”. This will normally apply in cases involving multiple questioning at different points in time; e.g., marathon interrogations with breaks, or (more commonly) the suspect coming back voluntarily to continue answering questions after being released. The suspect's voluntariness to talk after a break in time "purges" the taint of previous police illegality.

Resumed Questioning.39 If a second officer a few hours later in a different room starts a new interrogation, the suspect does not have to be re-Mirandized although something called the staleness doctrine will apply if a significant period of time has passed. Re-Mirandizing is required if there are two or more interrogations by different police agencies - state and federal, for example.

Surreptitious Questioning.40 The Miranda rule and a suspect’s Fifth Amendment rights are not violated if undercover police or their informants are used to obtain incriminating testimony from a suspect. The suspect’s Sixth Amendment rights are violated, however, if any of these techniques are used after formal charges have been filed. Miranda warnings are not required when suspect is unaware he is speaking to a law enforcement official.

Pre-Arrest Questioning. The Miranda warning which protects rights of a suspect during police interrogation does not need to be given to a person that is not under arrest.

Note Point

Miranda rights are only applicable when one has been arrested and placed in custody by the police.

28 Benoit, C.A (2011) The “Public Safety” Exception to Miranda. FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin

29 New York v. Quarles, 467 U.S 649, 651-652 (1984)

30 Moran v. Burbine - 475 U.S. 412 (1986)

31 Pennsylvania v. Muniz - 496 U.S. 582 (1990)

32 Oregon v. Elstad - 470 U.S. 298 (1985)

33 Michigan v. Tucker - 417 U.S. 433 (1974)

34 New York v. Harris - 495 U.S. 14 (1990)

35 Harris v. New York - 401 U.S. 222 (1971)

36 Arizona v. Fulminante, 499 U.S. 279 (1991)

37 United States v. Garlock, 19 F.3d 441, 443 (8th Cir. 1994

38 Wong Sun v. United States, 371 U.S. 471 (1963)

39 Michigan v. Moseley - 423 U.S. 96 (1975)

40 Illinois v. Perkins - 496 U.S. 292 (1990)

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Last updated on March 3, 2019

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