Are police still required to say something when they arrest you? If so, is that the Miranda rights amendment?

When a person is placed into custody or is no longer free to leave, the police must read the person their “rights”.  Those rights are what is collectively known as “the Miranda” warning.  This warning is known as the Miranda rights from the Supreme Court case of “Miranda v. Arizona“.

The Miranda case has stood the test of time.  Although Miranda does not come directly as an amendment itself, it is based on the Fifth (the right against self incrimination) and Sixth Amendments (right to counsel).  The basic premise is that if a person is being questioned for a crime, the police are required to provide certain warnings so that the person understands that they are NOT required to speak which could be self incrimination and that if they do, they have the right to a lawyer.

The Miranda warning requires that the person be told they have the right NOT to speak, and to understand that if they do, it can be used against them in a court proceeding.  Further that they have a right to legal representation by an attorney before speaking to the police and to have an attorney present during any questioning regarding this arrest now or in the future.  In addition, it provides that the person be notified that if he or she cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided. While there are many nuances to when and where Miranda rights apply, we will only cover the basics in this article.  For complex situations, we suggest contacting a lawyer well versed in constitutional and criminal law.


There are many aspects to when Miranda goes into effect.  We often receive questions about this situation.  If you are pulled over for a speeding ticket but not taken into custody, it is not required that you receive Miranda rights.  For Miranda to be required, there must be police custody and questioning involved.  So,  if you are pulled over and the officer begins questioning you about a potential crime and you are not free to leave, this may be a situation where the Miranda rights are required.

An example: Rhonda is pulled over on her way to work.  The officer never says anything about why she was pulled over but immediately asks for her license and registration.  She complies.  The officer then begins asking her questions about a store she regularly visits for coffee each morning.  He asks if she visits it often.  Rhonda asks why she was pulled over and she answers the general questions indicating that she does visit that store most mornings to get her coffee.  He asks if she saw anything suspicious when she drove by the place.  The officer states that there was a robbery this morning and they are stopping anyone who was seen on the video tape to ask for possible eye witnesses.   In this instance, we do not know if Rhonda is free to leave.  She certainly cannot just drive off.  That would cause a problem.  However, if Rhonda asks, “am I free to leave” and the officer says “yes”, Rhonda is not being detained.

In the scenario above, if the officer is simply looking for eye witnesses who may have noticed something unusual around the time of the robbery, this would not be a custodial interrogation and no Miranda is required.  However, if Rhonda is not free to leave or is taken into custody, Miranda will be required.


Courts may consider many factors when looking at whether a person was in “custody” and should have received their Miranda rights.  What is custody? To determine this, courts will consider who asked the questions,  how many were asking the questions, where did the questioning take place.

These types of questions, and many more are the types that the court will consider in a case arguing that a person’s rights were violated because the Miranda rights were not read.

It is critical that everyone arrested be read his or her Miranda rights.  If you feel you were detained or arrested without being read these rights, you should speak with an attorney to understand the legal ramifications that may apply to your case. Contact us here for a case review.

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