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MD DUI Miranda Rights

Thanks to the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution, you cannot be forced to incriminate yourself. In 1966, the Supreme Court of the United States decided that any person taken into custody must be read their rights – or what is commonly known as their Miranda rights – before questioning can take place. As a Maryland DUI lawyer can tell you,  you have the right to remain silent and to not make any statement that can incriminate you. If you decide to make a statement, the police must make you fully aware of the nature of your rights and the possible consequences of voluntarily giving up your right to remain silent.

The Importance of Miranda Rights for You

If the police fail to read your rights to you that does not mean that your charge will automatically be dismissed or thrown out. However, the failure to notify you of your rights could result in the prosecutor being unable to use certain evidence gleaned as a result of the violation against your rights. If that evidence makes up the bulk of the case against you, a skilled and aggressive DUI attorney may be able to successfully argue to the court that your charges should be reduced or, in some cases, eliminated.

It’s important to keep your right to remain silent in mind when under investigation, or being questioned by law enforcement. Some officers may try to deceive you and act as though they are concerned about your welfare when they are in fact building a criminal case against you. They may use their skills to get you to volunteer information that you are not legally required to provide.

Understand that you cannot be arrested for refusing to answer questions posed by law enforcement, however the information obtained in interviews can be used to facilitate your arrest and used against you in a trial. The best approach is to politely but firmly inform investigators that your attorney has advised you not to speak to them without the presence of counsel, then contact a Maryland criminal defense attorney immediately.

When informing you of your Miranda rights an officer or investigator must include:

  • You have the right to remain silent.
  • What you do say can be used against you in court.
  • You have the right to speak to an attorney and have a lawyer present during any questioning.
  • If you cannot afford a lawyer, the state will appoint one if you so desire.
  • If you voluntarily decide to talk to police, you can stop the questioning or interrogation at any time.

You will be asked if you understand the rights read to you and most agencies will require you to initial or sign a form stating that you understand those rights.

When You Must Be Given a Miranda Warning

The law only requires police officers to read you a Miranda warning if they intend to question you under custody. Therefore, two questions come into play which will determine whether police must issue a Miranda warning to a suspect:

  • Is the suspect in custody?

This is defined as being deprived of your freedom or being placed under arrest.

  • Is the suspect being interrogated?

This means you are being questioned about your involvement in a crime. It does not include being asked for identification, age, address, or name.

You can be arrested without receiving a Miranda warning. If, later down the line, the police decide to conduct an interrogation, the law requires them to read you the Miranda warning. The police are not permitted to use intimidation or physical coercion in any manner.

The law excludes the requirement for law enforcement officers to give a Miranda warning in certain emergency matters, notably where public safety is a primary concern. Courts have ruled that any evidence obtained under these circumstances can be used against the defendant in court.

Waiving Your Miranda Rights Is Not an Option

When an officer reads you your rights, you must give a clear answer when asked if you understand your rights. If you choose to remain silent, it is not acceptable under the law as a waiving of your rights. The reason may be that English is not your native language or you may not understand what the officer is saying to you. In cases where the Miranda warning must be translated to the arrestee, it is usually recorded.

However, once the officer complete the process of reading you your rights,  and you affirm that you understand what has been said, if you imply in any way, at any time before or during questioning that you choose to remain silent, police must stop the interrogation. If you state that you want to have an attorney present during any point in the questioning, the interrogation must be stopped.

When the attorney arrives, you must be given the opportunity to speak to him and have counsel present during any ensuing questioning.

Failure to Receive Your Miranda Rights

Failure by police officers to provide your Miranda warning may result in any statement or confession obtained as a result of the improper interrogation inadmissible. This can also affect the admissibility of evidence obtained as a result of the improper or illegal interrogation. To make such an argument successfully, however, requires the skills and resources of a well-qualified DUI lawyer. Before you give any information to police beyond your name, age, and address, protect your rights by consulting with an experienced Maryland DUI lawyer to avoid self-incrimination.