What are the Miranda Rights?

In Phoenix, Az in 1963 Ernesto Miranda was asked to accompany police officers to the station to answer question about the kidnapping and rape of 18 year old Lois Ann Jameson. Miranda voluntarily went the station. He stood in a lineup and afterward asked how he did. The officer told him he was positively identified. Then after 2 hours of interrogation, he gave a confession without being warned of his right to have an attorney and right to remain silent. He was convicted and appealed.

What is the Miranda Rights Script?

“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 an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you? With these rights in mind, do you wish to speak to me?”

What Does Miranda Rights Law Mean?

The police are required to advise a person of their right to remain silent and also have an attorney present during questioning. These rights were not made known to Miranda prior to his questioning. His case was appealed to the supreme court and his conviction was overturned. The case set forth the importance of the 5th and 6th amendments. These right need to be read to a person who is in a custodial interrogation.

What is Custodial Interrogation?

A Texas case Dowthitt v State, 931 S.W. 2d 244, 255 (Tex.Crim.app.1996) describes four situations which may constitute custody.

  • The suspect is physically deprived of his freedom of action in any significant way
  • When a law enforcement officer tells the suspect that he cannot leave
  • When law enforcement officers create a situation that would lead a reasonable person to believe that his freedom of movement have been significantly restricted
  • When there is probable cause to arrest and law enforcement officers do not tell the suspect that he is free to leave

What this sums up is being detained and not free to leave. Even though this is now commonly known to law enforcement, there are still times that these right are violated.

Richard Nixon was Against the Miranda Decision

“The Miranda and Escobedo decisions of the high court have had the effect of seriously hamstringing the peace forces in our society and strengthening the criminal forces…[t]he balance must be shifted back.”

 Richard Nixon, “Toward Freedom from Fear” (1968)

Richard Nixon was elected in 1968 and supported congress to pass the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968. This limited the Miranda rights decision. But legislation had little effect, as federal courts retained the power to determine the scope and applicability of the Constitution.

In 1986 Ronald Reagan’s Attorney General Edwin Meese was a critic of the Miranda decision. He wanted congress to overrule Miranda. He said it “coddles criminals” and “Miranda only helps guilty defendants. Most innocent people are glad to talk to the police.”

This sort of opinion is unheard of but not long ago is was under attack.

Do Police Have to Read Miranda Rights for DUI?

For DUI and DWI cases in Texas, the police do not seem to mirandize drivers. Most of the investigation takes place on the roadside where it is not clear that an arrest will take place until the investigatory stop is completed. A traffic stop is “temporary and may last no longer than necessary.” If the officer develops reason suspicion then the stop can continue a reasonable time in order to dispel reasonable suspicion.

Miranda Rights Texas

The Texas Code of Criminal Procedure requires the interrogator to read a person their rights and require the accused to knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily waive the rights in the warning. For oral statements, a recording is required with the rights warning recorded as well.

Do I have to Talk to the Police?

In Texas it is not necessary to speak to the police except for a limited reason. If an officer has reasonable suspicion that a crime has or is about to happen, the officer can ask for your name, date of birth and residential address during a lawful detention or arrest. Incidentally this information is all on a person’s driver’s license or ID assuming it is correct. If a person in a legal detention refuses to answer or gives the wrong information it is an offense called Failure to Identify.

It is common for people to want to speak to the police if they are feeling like they are being accused. Each situation requires a calm thought process. If a person is feeling harassed or bullied, my advice is to request a lawyer and stop talking. I have had many clients who tried to talk their way out of an arrest that was bound to happen. The more you say the more ammunition there will be to use against you in court. Even just saying something in the wrong way can unintentionally be disastrous . Call me, Eric Torberson, or enter your information on my website to talk about your concerns!

Author: Eric Torberson

Eric Torberson is a licensed attorney in Texas as well as licensed in the federal courts of the southern and western districts of Texas.