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When Miranda Warnings are Required

As criminal defense attorneys, we often hear clients say that they were not read their Miranda warnings. Contrary to what we see on TV, a police officer does not always have to read someone their Miranda warnings after they are arrested.

Two elements must be present before Miranda warnings are required: 1) a person must be in custody, and 2) that person must be interrogated.

“Custody” does not necessarily mean formal arrest. If a police officer informs a person that he or she is not free to leave or is being detained, then that person may be considered to be in a custodial environment for purposes of Miranda. The test is whether a reasonable person in the suspect’s position would have considered his or her freedom of action curtailed to a degree associated with formal arrest.

“Interrogation” means express questioning or its functional equivalent. This includes words or actions on the part of police that the police should know are reasonably likely to elicit an incriminating response from the suspect. This does not include the normal booking questions.

If a person gives a statement as a result of a custodial interrogation without first having been informed or his or her Miranda rights, then the statement will not be admissible in court.