“The officer didn’t read me my Miranda Rights. Does that mean my case will be dismissed”? This is one of the most frequently asked questions that I hear from folks charged with OUI and other criminal offenses. The answer varies from case to case. Here’s what you need to know:
Miranda “warnings” are only required when and if you are in custody. Custody means that you are being restrained by a law enforcement officer to a degree that we would normally associate with “formal arrest”. Just being pulled over and asked some questions or to perform field sobriety tests is not enough. Although detained, you are not in “custody” for Miranda purposes. If the handcuffs go on, you are in custody. Each case, each situation must be analyzed on its own specific facts. Slight changes in the specific circumstances can change the whole ball game.
If and when you are in custody (ultimately that is a question for a judge to decide), the officer must provide you with your Miranda warnings prior to “interrogating” you. Interrogation means asking questions or engaging in any conduct that is designed to “elicit and incriminating response”. If you invoke your rights under Miranda (remaining silent, have a lawyer present for example), interrogation must cease. Again, the court is the final arbiter of what is interrogation versus simple administrative questioning. Violation of your Miranda rights are not dispositive of your case. The remedy, generally, is that the court will exclude the questions and answers from a potential trial in your case. Further, if you invoke your Miranda rights, that invocation can not be used against you in trial.
The failure of the officer to provide you with Miranda warnings is just the tip of a large and sometimes complex iceberg. For a comprehensive analysis of the many complex issues in your case, call me for a free consultation at NICHOLS & CHURCHILL 207-879-4000. You can find me in the Time & Temperature Building at 477 Congress Street, Portland and check me out at www.nicholschurchill.com.
Disclaimer: This article is intended to provide general, not specific, information about Maine law. The publication of this article does not constitute an attorney-client relationship between the author(s) and the reader(s).