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Miranda Warnings

Everyone knows about the Miranda decision because in the movies we hear the officer say: "You have the right to remain silent..." After an arrest for a criminal offense in Florida, many people are surprised that the arresting officer did not read them their Miranda warnings.

What should you do when you are questioned by a law enforcement officer in Florida who suspects you may be involved with criminal activity? Under the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution and the Miranda decision you are entitled to invoke your right to remain silent and your right to have an attorney present.

In order to invoke your right to remain silent, you simply say, "I want to invoke my right to remain silent. I want to speak with an attorney. I am not going to answer any questions." Once you invoke your right to remain silent, if the officer continues to question you, then you know that the officer is violating your constitutional rights. Continue to remain silent.

If you have questions about how the Miranda decision might effect your case in the Tampa Bay area, including Hillsborough County, Polk County, Pinellas County, Pasco County, or Polk County then contact a criminal defense attorney at the Sammis Law Firm.

The Fifth Amendment Right Against Self-Incrimination

This article is intended to give you some general information about Miranda warnings, andthe Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. The Fifth Amendment privilege of the United States Constitution provides:

"No person ... shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself..."

In Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966), the Supreme Court of Florida found that "[w]ithout the protections flowing from adequate warnings and the rights of counsel, all the careful safeguards erected around the giving of testimony, whether by an accused or any other witness, would become empty formalities in a procedure where the most compelling possible evidence of guilt, a confession, would have already been obtained at the unsupervised pleasure of the police." Id. at 465.

Additionally, the Miranda decision provides that during "custodial interrogation" no statements taken from the defendant may be admitted against the defendant unless the defendant was advised of his Miranda warnings and then make a voluntary, intelligent, and knowingly waiver of those rights.

Motions to Suppress Statements Taken in Violation of Miranda

If the defendant was "in custody" and subjected to "interrogation" then the defense attorney can file and litigate a motion to suppress those statements so that the prosecutor can not use the incriminating statements during the trial. The issues for the motion to suppress usually include the following:

  • Whether the defendant was "in custody"?

  • Where the statements in response to "interrogation?"
  • If the defendant was in custody and in response to interrogation, then were the Miranda warnings properly given?
  • If so, did the defendant make a intelligent, voluntary and knowingly waiver?
  • If the waiver of Miranda warnings was valid, did the defendant do anything to later attempt to stop the questioning by indicating that he wanted to stop the questioning?
  • Even if the Defendant first invokes the right to counsel or the right to an attorney, is there any events that would allow him to be questioned by law enforcement again?

At the motion to suppress hearing the courts in Florida have generally indicated certain rules about who has the burden of proof at the hearing:

  • The Defendant must first establish that he was in custody and that he made statements in response to interrogation.
  • The prosecutor then has the burden to show that the custody was lawful.
  • The prosecutor also has the burden to show that before the defendant's statements were taken after an adequate Miranda warning was given and that the defendant gave a valid waiver to those rights.
  • In those cases in which the prosecutor has established that that valid Miranda warnings were given and the defendant waived those rights, then the defendant has the burden of
    showing that he asserted the right to counsel or the right to remain silent.
  • The prosecutor then has the burden to show that the defendant again initiated a new conversation with the law enforcement officers about the case, and that thereafter the police gave valid Miranda warnings and obtained a valid waiver of those rights.

If you have questions about the Miranda warnings and how they might effect the prosecution of your case in the Tampa Bay area, including Hillsborough County, Manatee County, Pinellas County, Polk County or Pasco County, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at the Sammis Law Firm.