My Miranda Rights Were Violated!

Posted on June 20, 2016


Mario Massillamany, Criminal Defense Attorney

My Miranda Rights were violated!  If I got a dime for every time I heard that sentence I would be a multimillionaire.  Miranda Rights.  We all have heard the phrase and have seen it used on television.  However, what does it really mean?

In a historic decision, the United States Supreme Court in Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966), which included three other cases across the country, dealt with police interrogations of persons suspected of a crime.  In the case, Ernesto Miranda was arrested at his home for suspicion of rape and kidnapping.  The police interrogated Ernesto for two hours at the police station and eventually obtained a written confession.  After he was convicted, his attorney appealed claiming he was not advised of his Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights.

The Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states, in part, “No person… shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.”  The Sixth Amendment states, in part, “the accused shall…have the Assistance of Counsel.”  In its ruling, the Supreme Court created a two-prong test that police officers must follow when determining if a person should be advised of their Miranda Rights.

The first prong is custody.  “Custody” is when a person is formally arrested or his or her freedom of movement is restricted by law enforcement.  To determine the latter, the court will ask whether a reasonable person in the defendant’s position would have believed they were free to leave.  If you are not in “custody,” the police do not have to read you your Miranda Rights.

The second prong is interrogation.  “Interrogation” is when the person is questioned about a criminal matter in which he or she is involved.  If a person is being questioned but is not in “custody”, there is no requirement for Miranda Rights.  The converse is also true.  If a person is in “custody” but voluntarily giving statements without being questioned, then Miranda Rights are not required.  If the two-prong test is met, the precautionary warnings must be given if the information obtained is to be admissible.

So, what is the lesson of the day?  If you are in custody, keep your mouth shut.  If you are not in custody and the police are asking you questions, keep your mouth shut.  Over my 12 years of handling some of the most high profiled criminal cases in Indiana, defendants think they can talk their way out of anything.  Wrong!  What ends up happening is they talk their way into helping law enforcement obtain the evidence necessary to convict them.

Mario Massillamany is a founding partner of the law firm of Massillamany & Jeter LLP and serves as Team Leader for the firm’s Criminal Law Practice Area.  For more information on this topic, please contact Mr. Massillamany at (317) 432-3443 or by e-mail at:

This article is not intended to serve as legal advice. Should you have questions about this topic, you should consult with a licensed lawyer.

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