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Attorney Christopher T. Adams

Trusted Attorney Providing Knowledgeable And Dedicated Representation

3 common misconceptions about Miranda rights

The Miranda warning is an important part of a police investigation. Officers who suspect someone of criminal activity must advise them of their Miranda rights by providing the Miranda warning. Defendants often assume they understand the rules about the Miranda warning and their Miranda rights, but some of what they believe might be misinformation.

What people hear from others or see in popular media is not necessarily an accurate depiction of the legal reality behind the Miranda warning. For example, the three misconceptions below might lead to people thinking that they’ve experienced a Miranda violation when they actually did not.

Myth #1: The warning is necessary at the time of arrest

A surprising number of people misunderstand when a Miranda warning is actually necessary. Television and film depictions of the Miranda warning often show it occurring at the time of someone’s arrest. Officers recite the warning as they put someone in handcuffs or shove them in the backseat of a police cruiser. It is a dramatic way to convey to the audience that the person is in serious trouble. However, the actual arrest process usually does not involve an officer providing an individual with the Miranda warning. It is technically only necessary before the police question someone while they are in state custody.

Myth #2: People have protection before arrest

Plenty of people wrongfully assume that their Miranda protections exist as soon as they begin interacting with law enforcement professionals. They believe that an officer who suspects them of a crime and who questions them informally has to notify them of their Miranda rights. That is simply not the case. A police officer does not need to notify someone of their Miranda rights before they have reason to arrest that person. Only questioning after someone’s arrest requires the Miranda warning.

Myth #3: Miranda violations lead to case dismissals

The final misconception about the Miranda warning is perhaps the most insidious. People believe that any minor violation of proper Miranda rules automatically leads to the courts dismissing their charges. However, a Miranda violation does not prevent the state from prosecuting someone. It only affects what evidence the state can use during someone’s prosecution. A Miranda warning violation might prevent the state from using someone’s confession but would not automatically force a prosecutor to drop the charges against a defendant.

Learning the truth about the Miranda warning may help people choose a realistic defense strategy given their circumstances. Seeking personalized legal guidance is a good way to get started.


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