Recently there was an incident in which a young woman was carrying a baseball bat in her car, when she was stopped by a police officer. Since she had the bat in the front seat, the officer asked her why she was carrying it. She stated self-defense. As a result of this statement, she was arrested and charged under California weapons laws. If she had said, she was carrying it to play baseball he would not have been able to charge her with a crime. He also did not have to give her a Miranda warning.
Before I go any further with this article, I wish to state that I am not an attorney and while I am a retired law enforcement officer, I have been retired for many years and may not be as current as I like to think I am.
Now in the above incident, you will notice that she was not given a Miranda warning and it was not required for a couple of reasons.
- One she was not in custody
- Second, there was the matter of officer safety.
When do you need to be given a Miranda warning?
First, understand that police are only required to Mirandize a suspect if they intend to interrogate that person under custody. This is defined as “questioning initiated by law enforcement officers after a person has been taken into custody or otherwise deprived of his freedom of action in any significant way.” If they are talking to you on the street or tell you, that you have the right to leave at any time, even if you are in a police station they do not have to give you a Miranda warning. My suggestion at that point would be to leave.
You can be arrested without being given a Miranda warning if they do not interrogate you. On TV you often see a officer immediately read someone their Miranda rights, this may not occur in real life. If the police later decide to interrogate the suspect, the warning must be given at that time.
If public safety is an issue, questions may be asked before you are given a Miranda warning, and any evidence obtained may be used against you under these circumstances.
Once arrested you must answer questions about your name, age, address. You can be searched for reasons of officer safety. Any statements that you volunteer prior to a Miranda Warning can be used against you in court. If you confess when you are not in a custodial situation, the confession can be used in court.
Do not count on Miranda to protect you. Here is a link to a previous article I wrote on What Rights do You Give Up When You consent to a Search I suggest you review this in conjunction with this article.
Do not be argumentative with the officer or in any manner aggressive regardless of the officer’s attitude, you will only make the situation worst. Be polite do what the officer tells you to and ask if you are free to leave. If he says yes, leave right now.