Most people in the United States, regardless of their political beliefs or cultural background, agree that freedom is an essential American value. Though our country has not always provided freedom to all, getting to that point should be our goal. But how can the United States ensure that our practices align with our values? How can we ensure that all Americans are truly free?

One way to promote liberty in our country is to ensure that the United States Constitution is enforced in every state, including Texas. This means ensuring that anyone accused of a crime understands their legal rights, such as their Miranda Rights, and that law enforcement respects them.

What Are Miranda Rights?

The 5th Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees that all Americans have the right to remain silent when interacting with law enforcement. In the 1966 Miranda vs. Arizona case, the U.S. Supreme Court determined that prosecutors cannot use a person’s statements as incriminating evidence unless the person had been previously informed of their right to remain silent and their right to legal counsel.

Since that landmark decision, police officers across the United States and throughout Texas are required to read defendants an official Miranda Warning before taking them into custody to interrogate them. The exact wording of the Miranda Warning varies from place to place, but it is typically some variation of the following:

  • You have the right to remain silent.

  • Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.

  • You have the right to have an attorney.

  • If you cannot afford one, one will be appointed to you by the court.

What Exactly Does “In Custody” Mean?

A person is considered to be in a police officer’s custody if they’ve been formally arrested or their freedom to leave has been taken away. It’s important to note that police officers don’t have to read you the Miranda Warning simply for arresting you. The law requires that they read you your Miranda Rights if they plan to interrogate you and ask you questions that could possibly lead to self-incrimination.

What Happens If I Wasn’t Read My Miranda Rights Before a Police Interrogation?

If you believe the police failed to inform you of your Miranda Rights before interrogating you, then you should contact a qualified and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney in Austin, Texas right away. If a defense lawyer can prove to a judge that you were not “mirandized” when you should have been, then anything you said while in custody will not be admissible in court. That means that your words cannot be used to build a case against you. The interrogation has now been legally suppressed.

Can I Invoke My Miranda Rights?

Yes. It’s important to remember that you have the constitutional right to stay silent and request a criminal defense lawyer when an officer wants to question you. This is usually a good idea, as people’s words can often get twisted and used against them. At Chris Perri Law, we recommend that you inform the police officers that you are invoking your right to remain silent before doing so. Vocalizing your intent helps to ensure that your rights are protected. 

Miranda Rights Violation: A Case Example

Imagine having the police handcuff you, search your body, confiscate your personal belongings, and take you down to the police station for questioning.

You would assume this means you’ve been taken into the police officer’s custody, right? You could reasonably conclude this means the cop should have read you your Miranda Rights, yeah?

Well, in one of our client’s cases, the Austin Police Department officers tried to argue otherwise, but we weren’t having it.  

Let us explain: Our client, a security guard, was working night duty when a trespasser arrived on the property. Our client asked the trespasser to leave, but he refused and responded aggressively. The trespasser’s behavior escalated and grew more violent. In an act of what we believe was self-defense, our client shot the trespasser, which tragically led to the trespasser’s death.

Austin police officers responded to the scene, where our client admitted that he fired gunshots. He was then handcuffed and placed in the back of a police cruiser for two hours before being transported to police headquarters. The police had also taken away his car keys and phone. Understandably, our client assumed he was under arrest.

At the Austin Police Station, the detectives questioned our client for over four hours, never reading him the Miranda Warning. After the interrogation, the homicide detective didn’t believe our client’s claim of self-defense and formally charged him with murder the next day. Because he could not afford a bail bond, our client was forced to await trial in jail.

Once on the case, Chris Perri argued that the homicide detective’s behavior was unconstitutional—you must read a person their Miranda Rights if you take them into custody. The detective tried to claim the client was never officially in custody because at one point she told the client, “you’re free to leave.” However, her actions spoke otherwise. She was playing games with our client. 

Thankfully, we were able to persuade the Travis County judge not to allow that. The judge sided with our client, and thus the entire interrogation was suppressed. Nothing from that conversation could be used against our client in a court of law. Our criminal defense team was then able to negotiate a favorable case reduction. Our client was convicted of negligent homicide—a lesser charge than murder or manslaughter—with no prison time as a part of his sentence.  

If Your Legal Rights Have Been Infringed Upon, Chris Perri Law Can Help.

Sadly, people’s legal rights are violated all the time, especially when it comes to criminal matters. If you were taken into police custody and not read your Miranda Rights, or you need any other kind of legal assistance, our criminal defense firm is ready and eager to fight for your freedom.

An award-winning criminal defense lawyer, Chris Perri has a proven track record of representing people accused of murder, manslaughter, and other serious crimes. He’s helped people overturn convictions, win trials, prove self-defense, and much more. Serving Travis County, Hays County, Bastrop County, Williamson County, Bell County, Burnet County, and throughout Texas, contact Chris Perri at (512) 269-0260 or for a FREE consultation today. 

We will do everything in our power to ensure your rights are honored and protected—it’s what the U.S. Constitution guarantees.