Will the charges against me be dropped because the police failed to give me Miranda warnings?

When police violate the Miranda rules, defendants don't necessarily get a free pass.

Question

If the police fail to give Miranda warnings and I end up charged with a crime, can I get the charges dropped?

Answer

One popular misconception about the criminal justice system is that a case has to be thrown out of court if the police fail to give the Miranda warning to people they arrest. What Miranda says is that the warning is necessary if the police interrogate a suspect in custody and want to offer something the suspect says into evidence at trial. This means that the failure to give the Miranda warning is utterly irrelevant to the case if:

  • the suspect is not in custody
  • the police do not question the suspect, or
  • the police do question the suspect, but the prosecution does not try to use the suspect’s responses as evidence.

In essence, if the prosecution can win its case without using the improperly obtained statements, a Miranda violation will not cause dismissal of the case.

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