13

So I know that it's not quite like you see in TV and movies where a dead-to-rights murderer or rapist will just walk free because the arresting officer forgot to read their rights during the arrest. What, if anything though, could result from a person not being informed of their rights? Also, I'm proposing a scenario where someone is arrested on very serious allegations but divulges possibly incriminating information and does not ask for a lawyer, so they probably don't understand their rights.

2
  • Makes you wonder what happens when a non-English speaker is arrested and given Miranda rights in English.
    – MonkeyZeus
    Dec 19, 2023 at 21:00
  • @MonkeyZeus - yeah but in that situation person being arrested also would not be able to tell the police anything. At least until an interpreter is provided, at which point they would probably be informed of their rights.
    – Ethan
    Dec 20, 2023 at 12:53

1 Answer 1

29

If a person is arrested and not apprised of their rights, anything that they say cannot be used in court, but perhaps conviction does not depend on the defendant's statements. Even without the warning, your statement can be used against you for purposes other than proving criminal guilt, for example the statement can be used to attack your credibility (Harris v. New York, 401 U.S. 222), also it can be used for sentencing (U.S. v. Nichols, 438 F.3d 437). Also, there is a "public safety exception" New York v. Quarles, 467 U.S. 649, in that example the defendant, un-warned, answered a question about where he put a gun in a store (thus posing a threat to public safety) – it was not deemed necessary to read him his rights first before asking where he put the gun. In addition, if the police learn a fact (e.g. about a witness or evidence) which the police can lawfully track down, the evidence / witness is admissible (the defendant's statement is not itself introduced as incriminating evidence).

More generally, anyone who doesn't say "I want a lawyer" when they are being interrogated probably does not understand the case law surrounding the 5th amendment and the concept of "adoptive admission". Here is a brief summary.

6
  • I thought part of the 5th amendment stated that your silence should not be taken as an admission of guilt. Does adoptive admission not completely contradict that?
    – Ethan
    Dec 18, 2023 at 0:36
  • 9
    That is one understanding of the situation. However, SCOTUS has repeatedly held this means you have to assert the right by invoking the 5th, not simply staying quiet. See Salinas v. Texas.
    – user6726
    Dec 18, 2023 at 1:06
  • 3
    @T.E.D.: It's a shame that courts are unwilling to recognize that any cop who does anything with the intention of making a suspect believe he has no choice but to confess is deliberately infringing the person's Fifth Amendment rights, regardless of the nature of the actions in question, and that juries who think an officer might have been acting with such intention should be instructed to view any confession obtained thereby as coerced and unreliable.
    – supercat
    Dec 18, 2023 at 20:05
  • 1
    There would also be harmless error analysis if the statement was wrongfully admitted, but the overwhelming other evidence of guilt, or underwhelming content of the statement made which did not amount to a confession, lead the appellate court to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant would have been convicted even if the evidence had been correctly suppressed.
    – ohwilleke
    Dec 18, 2023 at 21:41
  • 1
    @A.R.: It irks me that anyone who claims they thought the person was demanding assistance from a member of the species Canis familiaris, rather than a licensed legal professional, was not recognized as acting in bad faith contrary to their official duties.
    – supercat
    Dec 19, 2023 at 16:06

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .