The police didn’t read me my rights. Will they drop the charge?

Accused persons often tell their attorney: “The cop who arrested me didn’t read me my rights. Can you get the charges thrown out?”

The short answer is maybe. The rights you are thinking of are called your Miranda rights. The purpose is to warn you that you don’t have to talk to the police if you don’t want to. The idea is that a person under arrest may not feel free to remain silent when he is questioned by the police. So the U.S. Supreme Court has declared that persons in state custody must be warned of their rights before being interrogated.

How does this work in practice?

Example 1: A police officer pulls you over for speeding and walks up to your car window. He smells alcohol coming from the window. Without reading you your rights, he asks “Do you have any illegal drugs in the car?” You answer “Just a little dope in the glove box.” You are arrested and charged with marijuana possession.

  • Result: The charge is good. The officer didn’t have to read you your rights because you weren’t in custody when he questioned you.

Example 2: A police officer pulls you over for speeding and walks up to your car window. He sees a bag of marijuana in you lap. Without reading you your rights, he arrests you and you are charged with marijuana possession.

  • Result: The charge is good. The officer didn’t have to read you your rights because he did not ask you any questions.

Example 3: A police officer pulls you over for speeding and walks up to your car window. He smells alcohol coming from the window. He gets you out of the car, but you fall down because you are too drunk to stand up. He arrests you for DWI and puts you in handcuffs. Without reading you your rights, he asks “Do you have any illegal drugs in the car?” You mumble “Just a little dope in the trunk.” The officer searches the trunk, finds the dope and you are also charged with marijuana possession.

  • Result: The marijuana charge gets thrown out because you were questioned while in police custody and had not been read your rights. Your attorney can get the marijuana evidence suppressed. Without the evidence the state has no case.

In the real world the police screw this up from time to time. They forget to read people their rights or wrongly judge that they don’t have to. Whether they do or they don’t is one thing. Whether you answer their questions is another story. I’ll save that for another post.

9 thoughts on “The police didn’t read me my rights. Will they drop the charge?

  1. Charles says:

    I live in Garland Texas. I was charged and arrested of failure to I.D.. After I was handcuffed and placed into the car, should I have had my rights read to me? Being the officer elected to engage me in conversation, mostly to attempt to agitate me further.
    Do you know for this state a person isn’t given the miranda?

  2. Chrisalena says:

    I did not get my Miranda rights read to me and I was arrested for criminal trespass.I have a recorder of it all. I always record when i go to my kids gandmothers home.

  3. katie198541 says:

    My sisters was pulled over car searched and arrested but the officer who stopped her never red her her rights just said had behind your back and took her to jail no one red her her rights. What can she do now please let me know ASAP be for the weekend is over.

  4. admin says:

    Please read the post – THEY DON’T HAVE TO READ YOUR RIGHTS UNLESS THEY ARE GOING TO QUESTION YOU (or try in some other way to get you to talk about the crime).

    The bottom line is: You could be arrested, convicted of murder and then be executed without ever having been read your Miranda rights. That still would not violate your fifth amendment rights.

    • nick says:

      This is not necessarily true. You would need to look in your state constitution. For example, Louisiana State constitution states that any person arrested for criminal charges must be read their rights. It does not specify that the Miranda rights are specifically for questioning purposes only.

      • Randy England says:

        You are right, Nick. States have the power to impose more such requirements, but that is a local matter. It is not the case under the US Constitution, nor under Missouri law, but criminal lawyers will know the law in the jurisdictions where they practice.

        I should note that the remedy for not reading an arrested person their Miranda rights before questioning is to suppress the statements that the defendant makes. I have no idea what Louisiana does if they 1) arrest you; 2) fail to Mirandize you, and 3) then do not question you. Obviously. there is no statement to suppress. I suppose the courts and legislatures can come up with other ways of punishing the police. Maybe take away their donuts.

  5. luke says:

    i got pulled over for road rage and someone called the police on me and they pulled me over. then the officer walk up to the car ask me for my id and then he said it smells like weed where is the weed. Next thing i know im outside my car because they was searching it and then i gets lock up for possession of weed but they lock me up and didnt read me my rights so can i get this throwed out in court.

  6. amiee says:

    My man got pulled over driving with no incurece and no licence when we got pulled over the cop asked for licence and regerstration and he said i dont have that officer and the oficer said i dident think so than told him to get outt car and thats when he said ” your under arrest ” and put hand cuffs on him . With out reading him his rights .. can we fight the tickets because he dident read him his rights ??????????????

  7. Guythatgotscrewed says:

    Alright so this is the situation. Me and 2 friends were loitering by a church, it’s late. Officer sees us pull up and pulls up on us, talks to all of us, runs his checks. Then we are all places under arrest for loitering, no rights we’re read at any time. The owner of the vehicle did NOT give convent to search the vehicle. There was no probable cause stated or shown for the search of the vehicle. They searched the whole vehicle and found drug related objects, and I got a possession (less than oz). Is there anything I can do to get these charges drop? Anyone have any advice? help please!!

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