TV has trained people to expect Miranda rights immediately, but the reality is that Miranda rights are only given under certain circumstances. They only apply in cases where someone is in police custody, and they are being formally interrogated. Your Miranda rights are:
- The right to an attorney
- If you can’t afford one, you have the right to have one appointed to you.
- The right to remain silent
- Anything you say can be used against you in court.
These rights only get read when someone is being questioned or interviewed. There are many times when Miranda rights never get read to someone.
For instance, if you are in the back of a police car or in the police station and you start talking, the officer does not have to stop you to read you your Miranda rights. When the officer comes to see you for the first time and says that he is going to arrest you for a DUI, for example, he doesn’t have to stop and immediately give you your Miranda rights.
If he is asking you questions about whether or not you have been drinking, he doesn’t have to read you your Miranda rights. I will repeat: he only reads you your Miranda rights if you are in custody and you are being interviewed.
He does not have to read you your Miranda rights with questions that relate to his investigation. Before he makes a decision about whether or not to arrest you, he doesn’t have to read you your Miranda rights.
In some cases, detectives call people and question them about a case as part of their investigation. If a detective calls you and asks you to talk about a case that he or she is investigating, he or she does not have to read you your Miranda rights because you are not in custody—you are on the phone, and you can hang up anytime you want.
To learn more about the Miranda Rights and the history of them, click through our interactive timeline.