By a Rockledge, Florida Criminal Defense Attorney
Kenneth E. Rhoden, Esquire
In my work here at Rhoden Law Group, I find clients are frequently misinformed about Miranda Warnings. My criminal clients frequently tell me when they were arrested the police did not read them their rights. The “rights” they are referring to are the Miranda Warnings. Clients have a hope and expectation that the failure of law enforcement to read them their rights will lead to the case being compromised or dropped altogether.
Unfortunately for many clients, the important connection is not between an arrest and their rights being read but between a statement or confession being made and their rights being read. Law enforcement is under no obligation to read a Defendant the Miranda Warnings before, during, or after an arrest. For many arrests, police never read a Defendant the Miranda Warnings. The only time an officer needs to read Miranda Warnings to a Defendant is when the officer wants to take a statement from the Defendant and they want to later use that statement against the Defendant in court.
Here is a typical Miranda Warning:
- YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT.
- ANYTHING YOU SAY CAN AND WILL BE USED AGAINST YOU IN A COURT OF LAW.
- YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO TALK TO A LAWYER AND HAVE HIM PRESENT WITH YOU WHILE YOU ARE BEING QUESTIONED.
- IF YOU CANNOT AFFORD TO HIRE A LAWYER, ONE WILL BE APPOINTED TO REPRESENT YOU BEFORE ANY QUESTIONING IF YOU WISH.
- YOU CAN DECIDE AT ANY TIME TO EXERCISE THESE RIGHTS AND NOT ANSWER ANY QUESTIONS OR MAKE ANY STATEMENTS.
WAIVER OF RIGHTS
- DO YOU UNDERSTAND EACH OF THESE RIGHTS I HAVE EXPLAINED TO YOU?
- HAVING THESE RIGHTS IN MIND, DO YOU WISH TO TALK TO US NOW?
Notice I say typical warning. There is no exact wording that is required for the Miranda Warnings. When the United States Supreme Court issued Miranda v. Arizona in 1966, the opinion did not include any specific or even suggested language. California Assistant Attorney General Doris Maier and Nevada County D. A. Harold Berliner drafted what is probably the first version of the typical warning after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Miranda v. Arizona. Berliner was also a printer and he printed and sold thousands of Miranda Warning Cards to law enforcement agencies across the country. Over time with Mr. Berliner’s cards and the influence of television shows like Dragnet and Hill Street Blues using the warning, it became embedded in our law and culture. From California to right here in Brevard County, Florida, law enforcement uses a very similar Miranda Warning.
Miranda Warnings or not, any competent defense attorney advises their clients of at least one thing, “If you get arrested, keep your mouth shut, nothing you can say at that point will help you.” While confession may be good for the soul, it can be very bad for your case. If you are under investigation for a crime, keep your mouth shut and call us at Rhoden Law Group.
Attorney Kenneth Rhoden is celebrating 35 years in the practice of law in 2021. He is a former Assistant Public Defender and one of the few private attorneys in the area qualified to handle death penalty cases under the rules of the Florida Supreme Court. He has handled 100s of trials in his career from misdemeanors to felonies such as grand theft to sexual battery to possession of a firearm by convicted felon to felony DUI to capital crimes. Mr. Rhoden also practices in the areas of family law, injunctions, and personal injury.