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I have been arrested approximately 14 times in my life and never Mirandized. The last time I was arrested, about 8 police officers stood around me asking me what I was doing. After I explained every action I took in thorough detail, one of them said, "You are under arrest." I asked, "On what charge?" He answered me: "Detained." No further words were spoken. In jail I was separated from my financial obligations. I lost my apartment, many of my things, my cell phone number, and my ability to pay my credit card and other bills on time. Now I have delinquency on my credit report in Experian keeping me from acceptance of any credit card applications, even a business credit card. I was never tried and I was remediated to psychiatric treatment where there is an outstanding bill. Why should I have to suffer financial loss for an arrest that did not lead to a conviction?

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    Worth noting: Nothing you've described here suggests you were arrested illegally. There's really not anything illegal about arresting someone without reading them their Miranda rights.
    – bdb484
    Apr 11 at 4:46
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    Also worth noting: If you were arrested illegally, there are financial remedies through a civil actions for malicious prosecution, abuse of process, and violations of your civil rights.
    – bdb484
    Apr 11 at 4:47
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    How long were you arrested for without being charged? In most countries, there's a limit to how long you may be held without charge, though I'm not sure what remedies are available. Apr 11 at 12:36
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    @Tom Has "Miranda" become a generic international term for informing someone of their rights? I know other countries have similar processes, but I didn't think they used the name of the US Supreme Court ruling to refer to it.
    – Barmar
    Apr 11 at 16:53
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    @Harper-ReinstateMonica While the assumption that the OP has made some poor decisions seems reasonable, I think we can point to many cases in history where people have been treated unfairly by police for reasons that most rational people would agree are illegitimate abuses of power. I think it's worth considering that in this context and what protections exist for people in such scenarios. What's to stop a police force from ruining someone's career/life by arresting them repeatedly and then releasing them without charges?
    – JimmyJames
    Apr 12 at 20:36

3 Answers 3

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The answer is basically, "because the law isn't fair".

Arguments that this is a 5th Amendment taking or that there is some other reason that you have a right to compensation have been rejected by the courts.

There was really no decisive point at which this became the rule. It's just the way that it always was, and for the most part, no one has had the political will to change the law. People who are likely to become acquitted criminal defendants, and people who are likely to be arrested but released without being charged, have lousy lobbyists and aren't a well organized group of people.

There are some very narrow exceptions to the general rule that there is no compensation in these cases, on a state by state basis. These statutes are summarized at Law.SE answers here, here, and here.

But the general rule is that you don't get compensation for the costs of a constitutionally conducted arrest or criminal proceeding that doesn't result in a conviction, even if this is terribly unfair.

If law enforcement intentionally acts in a manner that violates the constitution, and other procedural hurdles are overcome, you can sue the government under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for your economic and non-economic damages and attorneys' fees that were caused by the violations of the constitution that took place. But proving this kind of case is hard, and the costs of litigation usually dwarf the economic harm you have suffered. So, attorneys usually take on these cases only when there is a death or lengthy incarceration or other extreme harm involved.

And, there are lots of routine and perfectly constitutional circumstances in which you can be lawfully arrested or tried for an offense for which you aren't guilty that doesn't result in a criminal conviction. I have personally advocated for changes in this area of law, but I'm one lonely voice among millions of people.

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  • Comments have been moved to chat; please do not continue the discussion here. Before posting a comment below this one, please review the purposes of comments. Comments that do not request clarification or suggest improvements usually belong as an answer, on Law Meta, or in Law Chat. Comments continuing discussion may be removed.
    – feetwet
    Apr 11 at 21:10
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    I would recommend adding a small blurb regarding Miranda Rights for completeness. Specifically that Miranda Rights are not required to be read for an arrest and subsequent jailing. They are only required for questioning someone in police custody. Or that they are unrelated to the outcome the question seeks.
    – David S
    Apr 11 at 23:03
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I suggest this is a political outcome, based on the belief that giving police more power helps society. People are extremely surprised when they have to interact with the legal system how punitive being arrested is, even without charges. Police in most states in the US are allowed to hold someone for 48 hours without any charges, and if you complain about it you're just more likely to actually be charged. Your opportunity for redress is almost zero.

This is the result of "tough on crime" politicians, and the fact that in the US only some communities are actively policed, so most people have zero interaction with law enforcement outside of traffic violations.

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    I would agree with the final sentence, excepting to add that IMO even those interactions are very minimal these days. I know watching videos of chases, etc, are quite popular, but I don't remember the last time I saw an actual traffic stop not related to an accident.
    – CGCampbell
    Apr 11 at 11:44
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    Maybe it's regional, @CGCampbell, but I see non-accident-related traffic stops relatively frequently along my daily commute, and I have personally been the subject of one (for perfectly good reason) within the last couple of years. Apr 11 at 16:50
  • And of course there are always exceptions — like the interior of any major city (well... maybe not LA), where only a tiny fraction of police activity involves motor vehicle enforcement.
    – FeRD
    Apr 11 at 21:48
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The Act (1998:714) on compensation for detention and other coercive measures establishes a right to compensation from the Government for those who have been detained for more than 24 hours without a subsequent conviction. Compensation can be granted for expenses, lost income, disruption of business, and emotional distress. Compensation is typically granted through an out-of-court settlement after a written application has been submitted to the Chancellor of Justice, but if the applicant is not happy with the Chancellor's decision, they can take their case to the courts.

According to the website of the Chancellor of Justice, the compensation for emotional distress is normally 30,000 SEK (~US$2,800) per month for the first month, 20,000 SEK (~US$1,900) per month for month 2-6, and then gradually increasing for subsequent months going as high as 100,000 SEK (~US$9,300) per month after 10 years. The compensation for emotional distress can be increased if the detainee was very young or suspected of a particularly serious crime.

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    Spain also pays compensation for preventive prison if there is no conviction, but I do not know the details.
    – SJuan76
    Apr 11 at 13:02
  • It might even be required from all EU countries in some form. Apr 11 at 16:16
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    @VladimirFГероямслава It seems there isn't. Further reading: eucrim.eu/articles/… Apr 11 at 18:24

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