When must Miranda warnings be given?
Police must give the Miranda warnings (i.e., “You have the right to remain silent; you have the right to an attorney . . . .”) prior to questioning an individual who they have taken into custody. Although this may seem like a straightforward proposition, judges consider many factors in determining whether an individual was in custody. For a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney, persuading a judge to suppress a defendant’s statement is no small task.
When is an Individual in Custody?
If a suspect is handcuffed, placed under arrest, and taken to the police station for questioning, he is in custody. In most other situations, this issue is not so clear. The test can be stated in various ways: Was the individual’s freedom of movement sufficiently restrained? Was the individual questioned under circumstances that present a danger of coercion? Would a reasonable person in that same situation have felt feel free to end the questioning and leave? Would a reasonable person would think that the defendant was in custody? The police officer’s subjective purpose to detain a person is not a decisive factor in the analysis.
To determine whether a person is in custody for purposes of Miranda, courts examine all the circumstances surrounding the interrogation, including:
- The location of the interrogation.
- The language used to summon the defendant.
- The extent to which the police confronted the defendant with incriminating evidence.
- How long the interrogation lasted.
- The amount of pressure the police applied to detain the defendant.
Boston Criminal Defense Attorney’s Advice
Whether or not an individual is in custody or not, it is often a mistake for him to speak with the police. Those questioned by police are usually unaware of how the police or the prosecutor can use their statements against them — even when they believe they are only protesting their innocence. Many individuals naively place themselves at the scene of the alleged crime, admit to an argument, or claim self-defense — thereby inadvertently assisting the prosecution with proving its case against them. Since it can be very difficult to suppress a defendant’s statement, even if the police fail to advise an individual of his Miranda Rights, it is usually wiser to assert your right to silence and to a lawyer.
Contact Boston Criminal Defense Lawyer, Kevin J. Mahoney
If you are facing criminal charges, an experienced Boston criminal defense lawyer will guard your constitutional rights and protect you from overreaching by the police and prosecutors. If you would like to speak with him about your situation, call us at (617) 492-0055 or submit our online contact form.