Lately, all eyes have been on the Supreme Court as they have released recent decisions on everything from abortion to school funding to the government’s control over environmental issues.
As it relates to the law, one case in particular has gained attention.
A ruling regarding Miranda Rights has implications for anyone arrested for a crime. What did the ruling say? And, what does it mean for both police and the public?
What Are Miranda Rights?
You have the right to remain silent.
The statement above is the beginning of what is referred to as Miranda Rights. Miranda Rights are a statement said by police to someone immediately after they have been arrested for a crime. While the wording doesn’t need to be exact, the statement must touch on four points.
- You have the right to remain silent.
- Anything you say can be used against you.
- You have the right to an attorney
- If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be assigned to you.
Miranda Rights were created in 1966 as a result of the Supreme Court case, Miranda v. Arizona. The statement was created to protect a suspect’s Fifth Amendment rights, which protects a person from self-incrimination.
If police fail to issue Miranda Rights, the statements made by an arrestee after the arrest may not be able to be used in court (although there are some exceptions). Recently the Supreme Court issued a ruling on what else happens — or doesn’t happen — if police fail to issue Miranda Rights.
What Was the Supreme Court’s Ruling?
The recent Supreme Court case wasn’t related to whether or not police must issue Miranda Rights. It had to do with an arrestee’s right to sue if their Miranda Rights weren’t issued at the time of the arrest.
A federal law allows people to sue government offices for violating their constitutional rights. The Supreme Court case looked at whether failing to read Miranda Rights was a violation of a civil right. The Court found that it wasn’t.
In a 6-3 ruling, the Supreme Court said failing to read Miranda Rights was not a violation of civil rights, and it shielded police from being sued if they failed to issue Miranda Rights.
The Supreme Court did not say that police are no longer required to issue Miranda Rights. Even after the Court’s ruling, police are still legally required to issue Miranda Rights.
So, what does the ruling mean for law enforcement and the public?
What Does the Ruling Mean for Law Enforcement?
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, Clearwater Police Chief Daniel Slaughter, and St. Petersburg Police Chief Anthony Holloway gave statements to the Tampa Bay Times indicating that they don’t believe the ruling will have much bearing on the way their officers conduct arrests.
According to their statements, police still have a major incentive to issue Miranda Rights.
If police fail to issue Miranda Rights, they cannot use evidence collected from statements made by the arrestee. Law enforcement officials say officers are inclined to collect as much admissible evidence as possible, so they will read Miranda Rights to ensure that they can collect and use evidence.
“If the officer wants to make sure that he or she has a strong case against the person they just arrested, then they need to read Miranda,” said St. Petersburg Police Chief Anthony Holloway.
What Does the Ruling Mean for the Public?
While many law enforcement officials believe the Supreme Court ruling should have no bearing on fair arrest processes, some civil rights advocates and legal experts have concerns.
Judith Scully, a criminal law professor at the Stetson University College of Law says, “They [the Supreme Court] recognize the police officers’ conduct as being unethical, perhaps even unacceptable, but they are not willing to say that it’s unconstitutional. They draw a distinction between ethics, acceptability, and constitutionality.”
Concerns are that the new ruling decreases the accountability of police officers. It’s unlikely that law enforcement departments will discipline officers for failing to read Miranda Rights, and now, there is no civil recourse either.
For the public, it’s more important than ever to know your rights. Even if you aren’t read your Miranda Rights, you should know that protections still exist. If you find that your rights were violated, get good legal representation to ensure that you can dismiss any evidence that was collected unlawfully.
Talk To a Criminal Defense Attorney
If you are arrested for a crime, you have rights. Make sure you know your rights and that you have a criminal defense attorney by your side who will fight for your rights. If you have been arrested for a crime and need expert legal counsel, talk to TJ Grimaldi today.
TJ is committed to fighting for his clients and getting them the most fair and just outcomes possible. Talk to TJ about the details of your case today. Call 813-226-1023 or request your consultation to schedule a time to talk and make a legal plan for your case.