Question: I was arrested but never read my rights. Is that a reason to file a motion to dismiss?

Answer: In many criminal cases, when the defendant is arrested the police read him or her “Miranda rights”.  These rights usually follow the general form that (a) you have the right to remain silent, (b) anything you say can and will be used against you, (c) you have the right to have an attorney present prior to any questioning or interrogation commencing, and (d) if you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. The police officer then usually asks whether the accused understands these rights, and whether he or she wishes to waive them so that they can answer questions.

The right to be advised of these rights arises from the 1966 United States Supreme Court case of Miranda vs. Arizona.  The Miranda case and other cases that follow it essentially stand for the proposition that before the police interrogate a subject in custody they must advise the subject that they have a right not to be interrogated and they have a right to an attorney.

If the police fail to read these “Miranda rights” to the defendant and the defendant then makes a statement implicating himself or herself in a crime, the defendant may file a motion to suppress and ask the court to prohibit the State from using that confession.

If there is no confession that was given by the defendant, then there is nothing to suppress.  There is no general requirement that the police read Miranda rights to a suspect in custody.  They only have to read the Miranda rights to the suspect if there is some interrogation or questioning of the subject.

As a result, you can be arrested and not read your Miranda rights, and as long as you did not make a confession or other inculpatory statements during custodial interrogation, there probably is no basis for the court to dismiss the case.

Matt Stiller is a Delaware criminal defense lawyer with Schwartz & Schwartz, Attorneys at Law. Matt sees clients in the firm’s Wilmington, Delaware and Dover, Delaware offices. If you would like to speak to Matt about a criminal or DUI case, or if you have a question that you would like Matt to answer on this blog, please contact us today!