Miranda Rights

Were You Read Your Miranda Rights?

Anybody who has watched television knows that the arresting officer must read the “Miranda rights” when a citizen is arrested. What is the effect of the officer not reading the Miranda rights to a person arrested for DUI? It depends upon the particular facts of your case.

What is the Miranda Rule?

The “Miranda rule” came about in order to ensure that statements made by the accused would not be coerced by police officers. The arrestee’s responses to questions by a police officer cannot be used in court, no matter how critical they are to proving the charge, unless the prosecution proves that the suspect was advised of the Miranda rights and waived those rights before questioning.

A common misconception is that a criminal charge is automatically dismissed if the suspect was not “read his rights.” The reality is that the prosecution is entitled to continue but would be prevented from using the suspect’s statements in court. If those statements were a critical part of the case, there might not be enough evidence remaining to attempt to prove the charge. Then, a dismissal might follow. If there is sufficient evidence remaining without considering statements of the accused, the trial will go on.

What Happens if You Waive Your Miranda Rights?

Most people waive their right to remain silent and answer the officer’s questions, thinking that if they cooperate with the officer it will help their case. Certainly, everyone wants to be cooperative. However, in asking questions of a suspect in custody, the officer is not making idle conversation. He is looking for more evidence to help incriminate the person he has just arrested. The law gives you the right to remain silent, and your silence cannot be used against you in court as evidence of “consciousness of guilt.”

A DUI Interview is used by almost all Washington police agencies. It contains questions asked of all DUI suspects who waive the right to remain silent. Typically, the officer writes down the suspect’s answers to the questions and the suspect is not allowed to review the answers written down for correctness or context. These questions are designed to head off potential defenses to a DUI charge, and to gather additional evidence for the prosecution.

Importantly, one of the “Miranda rights” is the right to consult with an attorney before answering questions. The court rules set forth by the Washington Supreme Court also require that a suspect in custody on suspicion of DUI be advised that he has the right to an attorney as soon as possible after arrest. If the suspect was not advised of the right to counsel as explained herein, a breath test subsequently administered cannot be used in the DUI criminal prosecution. Court decisions have repeatedly endorsed the wisdom of this rule. A DUI suspect has only a limited amount of time to gather exculpatory evidence, and immediate advice of counsel ensures that the right to present a defense is meaningful.

Contact a Skilled Washington DUI Defense Attorney

If DUI charges have been brought against you, it’s crucial to have a knowledgeable attorney on your side. An experienced DUI defense attorney will know how to assess the evidence against you and develop a sound strategy in your case for the best possible results. Providing compassionate counsel and experienced representation, The Fox Law Firm PLLC has been achieving positive outcomes for clients in DUI cases since 1985. Contact Attorney Jon Fox for a free consultation by calling (425) 274-9190.