You have the right to remain silent, you have the right to an attorney, if you cannot afford one the Court will appoint one to represent you, you have the right… These words make up part of the infamous “Miranda Warnings” also known as “Miranda Rights.” If you are an American you are very familiar with these words since they are used constantly in movies, TV shows and books. But, how familiar are you with the meaning of the words or when Miranda has to be given? Unless you are a law student, criminal procedure law professor or a criminal lawyer, probably not very.
Miranda Warnings or Rights get their name from a criminal case that started here in Arizona, Miranda v. Arizona, and was decided by the Supreme Court in 1966. Contrary to popular belief, law enforcement does not have to give Miranda Warnings to everyone every time. They are only required to give you your Miranda Warnings if the situation has 2 things. First you must be “in custody” or “detained.” Second there must be an “interrogation.”
Custody means that you are not entitled to leave or that a “reasonable person” would feel that they could not leave. Interrogation is basically defined as “questioning designed to illicit an incriminating response.” So, unless you are in custody and are going to be interrogated the officer does not have to read you Miranda.
Lastly, if your Miranda Rights are violated because the officer didn’t read them to you when they were supposed to, it does not mean your case will automatically be dismissed. It means that any statements you made can be suppressed, which could lead to a dismissal if the other evidence is weak.
So, basically, the police do not have to give Miranda Warnings with every single encounter and if they should, and they don’t, it doesn’t necessarily mean a “get out of jail free” card.