Understanding Miranda rights for Florida DUI suspects

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Miranda rights, as they are heard in countless TV shows and movies, are rights given to criminal suspects, including Florida DUI suspects, before being questioned by law enforcement officers.

However, when Miranda rights are bestowed is often mistaken and confusing. Understanding these rights is essential for mitigating possible future negative effects of a criminal charge or Florida DUI conviction.

Miranda v Arizona: the landmark decision

Miranda rights come from a 1966 U.S. Supreme Court case known as Miranda v. Arizona. In that case, the Supreme Court ruled that all persons taken into police custody must be informed of their right not to make any self-incriminating statements (as provided for in the 5th amendment of the U.S. Constitution) before they are questioned or interrogated.

Two vital requirements

In essence, a suspect must be in "police custody" and be "interrogated" before police can lawfully use any statement a suspect makes that could be incriminating. However, defining "police custody" as well as determining the time when "interrogation" occurs for purposes of triggering the requirement isn't so straightforward.

Defining "police custody"

A suspect is determined to be in "police custody" when he or she is essentially arrested. Unfortunately, a traffic stop, such as a driver who is pulled over for DUI, is not considered in police custody. This is a common mistake drivers make. In many cases, drivers answer any and all questions by police when they have been pulled over because they think they are obligated to. This is dangerous; a suspect's statements can be used against him or her if the requirements for Miranda warnings have not been met - and authorities know this.

When a suspect is being "interrogated"

A suspect is being "interrogated" when police officers begin asking him or her questions that could implicate him or her in a crime. When a driver is pulled over for a DUI, for instance, an officer's request to see a driver's license and registration, however, isn't considered an interrogation.

The definition behind what constitutes "police custody" and when an "interrogation" takes place is looked at on a case by case basis. Courts have specifically defined both for certain situations in case law throughout the years, however, each circumstance presents a unique set of facts and should be evaluated by a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney.

If you are facing DUI charges in Florida, consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney is advised. Your lawyer can examine your arrest to determine if officers properly Mirandized you.