Miranda Warnings

If you're facing a Pennsylvania DUI charge, the police probably read you your rights as they were arresting you. These rights are called a Miranda warning, and stem from the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark Miranda vs. Arizona decision. Police aren't required to read you your rights when they arrest you, but they must do so before questioning you. If the officer who arrested you didn't read you your Miranda rights, any statements you made might be suppressed. The Pennsylvania DUI attorneys at Zachary B. Cooper, Attorney at Law, P.C. will review the evidence in your driving under the influence case to determine whether any of it might be suppressed because of a Miranda rights violation or any other violation of your constitutional or statutory rights.

The exact wording of the Miranda warning wasn't spelled out by the Supreme Court. Most law-enforcement agencies use a statement similar to the following to advise criminal suspects of their rights:

"You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to have an attorney present now and during any future questioning. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you at no cost."

Your Fifth Amendment rights hinge on your right to have an attorney present during questioning or interrogation. The Fifth Amendment guarantees you the right to remain silent and to avoid incriminating yourself. Police must clearly inform you that an attorney will be appointed to you if you cannot afford one.

If you say you want to consult with an attorney, police must stop all questioning until your lawyer arrives. You should be given time to consult with your lawyer and to have your legal representative present during any further interrogation.

Whether you invoke the right to have an attorney present at any time, you always have the right to remain silent and not answer any questions, other than general identifying information such as providing your name and identification.

You can be legally arrested without being given a Miranda warning. Miranda warnings are designed to safeguard you from incriminating yourself during interrogation. In order to make a lawful arrest, police need only probable cause - the reasonable belief that you committed a crime.

Therefore, any statements you make during an interrogation might be suppressed if they failed to advise you of your Miranda rights, but your arrest may still be valid. Police can also administer chemical tests without issuing a Miranda warning, but you're not required to answer any questions during the test.

Miranda warnings cover only communication and testimony, so a Miranda violation won't result in the suppression of real or physical evidence. Therefore, the arresting officer may be able to testify about observations such as slurred speech during questioning even if you weren't advised of your Miranda rights.

A pressing Miranda question in most Pennsylvania DUI cases is whether you were under arrest when any incriminating statements were made. Statements made before you are arrested are not typically governed by the Miranda decision. Police can ask you preliminary investigative questions like "Where have you been?" or "Have you been drinking?" and the answers are typically admissible in a DUI / DWI case even if you weren't given a Miranda warning.

Police don't have to read you your Miranda rights during a traffic stop or before you perform a field sobriety test, because you are not under arrest. Your right against self-incrimination only applies to testimony against yourself, not real or physical evidence. Because field sobriety tests are considered physical evidence rather than testimony, performing one does not violate your protection against self-incrimination. However, any verbal statements made during the physical testing may be considered incriminating depending on the circumstances of your particular situation.

Police investigating Pennsylvania DUI cases are trained to obtain as much information as possible before they arrest you and must read you your Miranda rights. If police interrogate you without advising you of your Miranda rights, any information you provide might be suppressed from evidence. The Pennsylvania DUI attorneys at Zachary B. Cooper, Attorney at Law, P.C. will review any statements you made to police and determine whether they may be suppressed from evidence, as well as assessing how any statements may help or hurt your case. Please call us for a free consultation.