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When do police officers have to read suspects their rights?

On Behalf of | Mar 21, 2023 | Criminal Defense

Many New York residents have seen criminal suspects being read their rights in television shows or movies, which means they know that people suspected of committing crimes have the right to remain silent and can ask for a lawyer. However, they may not know that police officers only have to give suspects what is known as the Miranda warning when two perquisites are met. Courts only require police officers to give the warning to suspects who have been taken into custody and are being interrogated.


Detention for the purposes of a Miranda warning means that a suspect is not free to leave, which does not necessarily mean that an arrest has been made. However, the courts give police officers wide latitude in this area. Motorists who are pulled over are not free to leave, but admissions they made about behavior like drinking before an arrest is made would probably not be excluded under the Miranda rule. If you are ever pulled over and feel anxious about answering questions, you should remember that you have the right to remain silent even if the police officer has not read you a Miranda warning.

Interrogation and Miranda acknowledgments

The Fifth Amendment states that no person can be compelled to be a witness against themselves, but it does not give suspects the right to refuse all police questions. Police may demand answers to questions to establish identity, but they have to advise suspects about their rights to remain silent and speak with a criminal defense attorney before touching on subjects that could be incriminating. When police officers inform suspects about their rights, they usually ask them to sign a statement called a Miranda acknowledgment. Signing this document is a good idea because the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that refusing to sign it amounts to waiving Miranda rights.

Take no chances

A police officer’s job in a criminal investigation is quite simple. They are tasked with identifying and apprehending the offender and then gathering as much evidence as possible for prosecutors. If you are ever taken into custody because police officers think you may have committed a crime, you should take no chances. You should answer questions that establish your identity but invoke your right to remain silent when asked about your alleged activities, and you should ask to speak with an attorney.