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February 24, 2017

Do You Really Understand Your Miranda Rights While In Custody?

Greenville South Carolina criminal defense law attorney

While most people think that they have a pretty good idea of how Miranda rights work, many are actually mistaken in more ways that you would imagine. For instance, you might assume that if a police officer questions you without reading your rights, then anything you say will not be used as evidence. In reality, this only applies if you are in custody and being interrogated. Further, many people waive their rights for the promise of help in minimizing the trouble they’re going to be in when they admit to some involvement in a crime.

What Happens When You Make a Statement While Not In Custody?

It is extremely common for people to find themselves in deep trouble because they’ve made a statement to the police while not in custody, thinking that they were protected by the fact that their Miranda rights have not yet been read to them. In these cases, your Miranda rights weren’t read because you weren’t in custody at the time. That means that whatever you’ve said can be used as a reason to arrest you, placing you in custody, and as evidence against you.

How Is Custody Defined and Viewed By the Courts in South Carolina?

There are a few elements of determining whether or not you are actually in custody, and it doesn’t rely on being arrested or even being asked to leave your vehicle in a traffic stop. Ultimately, whether or not you were in custody can be argued in court, and the judge will consider several points in making this determination.

They will consider where the interview and/or statements took place. If you were standing outside of your vehicle at a traffic stop when you said something, you were probably not in custody, and your statements can be used against you. If you were at the police station, voluntarily, and provide information, then this could be used against you, too. However, if you were taken to the police station, especially if you were placed in a locked room, then you will likely be determined to have been in custody and should have had your Miranda rights read to you, in this case. If they are not, then anything you say can likely be thrown out.

If you were free to leave, then you are not in custody. This is because a key component of the ‘in custody’ definition is having restrictions on your ability to walk away whenever you please. This is why it’s a good idea to ask if you can leave. If anyone tells you that you cannot leave, then you will probably be found to have been in custody. Further, if a police officer escorts you to and from the interview room to take breaks to use the restroom, for example, then this can certainly be taken as an indication that you are in custody at the time.

Finally, the length and tone of the interview can play a role in determining whether or not you are in custody. Typically, if the interview is very long and/or if the tone of the interview is accusing in nature, then you can be found to have been in custody. Examples might include a situation where officers are intimidating, or where they start discussing the evidence that they against you, or coercing you into providing information in exchange for reducing the consequences of whatever they think you were involved in or whatever they think you did, then this a good indication that you were technically in custody.

How Do You Know If You Have Been Interrogated in South Carolina?

You may think that any kind of questioning from police is an interrogation. This is not the case. In reality, there must be questioning and behavior that is intended to elicit a confession.  If the police officer who is questioning you acts like they don’t believe you, and makes statements to that effect, then they are not just questioning you; they interrogating you. Yet, simple questions about what you know about the situation may not be considered interrogation.

What Happens When You Are Not Read Your Rights and You Make a Statement

Whenever you make a statement, while you are actually in custody and being interrogated, then your statement can be thrown out if your Miranda rights are not read to you. This could lead to getting any charges dropped or reduced, because your statements can’t be used against you.

Even so, that doesn’t mean this is going to be simple to accomplish. The police officers will make arguments as to whether or not you were actually in custody and whether or not you were being interrogated when you made the statements. If they are successful, then your statement won’t be thrown out based on the failure to read your Miranda rights. It is important to have a South Carolina criminal defense attorney on your side in such cases.

What To Do After Making Statements You Regret and Wish to Be Thrown Out

The best thing to do is to avoid making any statements at all to the police until you’ve spoken with a criminal defense attorney. If you are not in custody, you should be allowed to leave, and should politely request to do so or specifically ask if you are in custody or if you are able to leave. If you can leave, then you should leave, and contact an attorney.

Yet, things don’t always work out that way, and sometimes people say things that they wish they wouldn’t have. If this happens, then there may be little that can be done to get your statement thrown out, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. You just need to talk to a determined criminal defense attorney in Greenville about everything that happened, everything you said, and all of the circumstances surrounding the statement that you made. Call Lauren Taylor Law to find out how we can help you if you’ve already made a statement or before you do so, if possible.