Miranda is Not Just for Words Alone

When most people hear of Miranda warnings, they assume it relates to verbal interrogation by the police. A recent case came out of the Florida District Court of Appeals that examines what Miranda really means. The court explored Miranda warnings in great deal and highlighted the fact that interrogation for Miranda purposes refers not only to express questioning, but also to any words or actions by the police other than those normally attendant to arrest and custody that the police know are likely to elicit an incriminating response. The court pointed out a number of tactics that cops use in lieu of express questioning such as the use of psychological ploys, such as confronting the suspect with his or her guilt, minimizing the seriousness of the offense, and looking to cast blame on others.

In that case, the suspect was Mirandized, and told the LEO that “I’d rather have somebody represent me.” Essentially, the suspect was asking that the police stop interrogating him. It is the law in Florida that a suspect’s request to cut off questioning must be scrupulously honored by the police. In this case the police stopped expressly questioning the suspect but the police continued to talk with him, telling him that they didn’t want him later to say that no one asked for his side of the story; they told him they were trying to protect him, and told the defendant that they wanted to talk with everyone who was involved. Based upon this, the suspect gave a statement and was eventually charged with a crime. The court found the suspect’s Miranda rights were violated when he wanted the questioning to stop and the police failed to cease using tactics to get the Defendant to talk, even though the police did not verbally interrogate the Defendant to get him to give a statement.

If you find yourself stopped by the police and arrested, do not let them question you without a lawyer. Tell them you want an attorney and politely ask them to stop questioning you. If they use tactics such as yelling at you, telling you they are trying to help or blaming another person, please realize these are common law enforcement tools to get you to talk. If that happens, ask them to stop or just remain silent. You have that right. If you get arrested and you feel your Miranda warnings were violated, make sure you write down the specifics of what happened as soon as you are released from jail. It is often time those little details that make the difference to your lawyer discovering violations of your Miranda rights.

Remember an Orlando criminal attorney can challenge not only the express questioning by police, but any tactics they use to get you, the defendant, to make a statement.