By: Mark Diaz
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How Did The Supreme Court Miranda Ruling Impact Citizens’ Rights?
If you watch TV and films, you probably know the Miranda warning: You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can be held against you in a court of law. Countless films and TV shows reference Miranda rights, but what does it mean after the Supreme Court made its Miranda ruling in 2022?
Last year, the court ruled 6-3 that getting a Miranda warning is not necessarily a protected constitutional right in certain cases. Learn more about this Supreme Court ruling below and how it affects our rights. If you need help with your criminal case, the Harris County criminal defense attorney at Mark Diaz & Associates can help.
History Of The Miranda Ruling
The US Supreme Court ruled in 1966 that the Miranda warning must be read when someone is being placed under arrest. The full Miranda warning is: “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can (and will) be used against you in court. You have the right to the presence of an attorney, and if you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you before any questioning.”
However, the 2022 ruling in Vega v. Tekoh in 2022 caused the court to backtrack from the famous Miranda ruling substantially. In Vega, the court ruled 6-3 that someone is who denied their Miranda warnings and whose compelled statements are used as evidence against them at trial cannot sue the law enforcement officer who violated their Miranda rights, even if the jury finds them not guilty.
ACLU Says It Is Harder To Hold Government Officials Accountable
The ACLU, an opponent of the recent ruling, reported last year that because people are being denied the right to sue when their rights are violated, the Supreme Court has ‘further widened the gap between the guarantees found in the Bill of Rights and the people’s ability to hold government officials accountable for violating them.”
CNN reported that while the ruling still says the Miranda warning safeguards a constitutional right, the warning itself “is not a right that would trigger the ability to file a civil lawsuit.” In a report, CNN’s Supreme Court analyst Steve Vladeck stated that the ruling did not get rid of the Miranda ruling. But it does make it more challenging to enforce.
Vladeck said that the only remedy when someone’s Miranda rights are violated is to suppress statements from a suspect who was not correctly advised of his right to remain silent. But if the case does not go to trial or the government does not try to use the statement, there is no available remedy for the government’s misconduct.
The Majority Said Miranda Violation Does Not Violate The Fifth Amendment
Justice Samuel Alito, who five other Republican-appointed judges joined, said violating the Miranda right is not a violation of the Fifth Amendment. He said the majority does not see the need to expand Miranda to “confer a right to sue.”
However, the minority, led by Justice Elena Kagan, said the court’s ruling stripped people of the ability to get a remedy for violations of their Miranda rights. Kagan said that the majority injures the rights of the people by denying civil remedies.
Case Involved Hospital Worker Terence Tekoh
The case featured hospital worker Terence Tekoh, accused of sexual assault on an immobilized patient in 2014. The issue was not whether he should be read his Miranda rights but whether he can file suit against a police officer for damages if he does not get the Miranda warning for evidence that is introduced in a criminal case.
Carlos Vega, an LA County sheriff deputy, interviewed Tekoh, but he did not read him his Miranda rights, per the 1966 precedent of Miranda v. Arizona, where the Supreme Court said that the defendant has to be told of their right to remain silent. Under the Miranda precedent, courts are usually prohibited from entering self-incriminating statements into evidence.
Tekoh eventually admitted to the crime. He was tried and acquitted, even after his confession was provided at trial. Months later, he sued the police officer under a federal law that allows lawsuits for damages against an agent of the government violating constitutional rights.,
The parties disagreed on whether the police officer coerced an involuntary confession from Tekoh. Vega’s lawyers maintained that the statement was consensual and that he was not in custody at that moment. But lawyers for Tekoh said their client was bullied into confessing in a room with no windows.
This case is essential for law enforcement officials to be aware of. While it appears that police cannot be sued in civil court for civil rights violations for not reading suspects their Miranda rights, it still is an essential part of the arrest process. Not giving a suspect their Miranda rights when required can damage the prosecutor’s case.
Essential Facts About Miranda Rights
It is important to note that the recent Supreme Court ruling only affects people suing police in civil court for violating their Miranda rights. There are other essential things to know about Miranda rights that can affect your case:
The Police Do Not Always Have To Read Them To You
The original Miranda v. Arizona case only relates to police interrogations, which only occur when you are in custody. So, police do not always interrogate people when taking them into custody. This means the police do not have to read you your rights when they first pull you over to see if you are intoxicated.
Miranda Violations Do Not Always Dismiss A Case
If there is a Miranda violation, this does not mean the case is over. The only remedy in there is a violation of Miranda is to toss out statements from the questioning. You could still be found guilty even if there is a Miranda violation and specific evidence is suppressed.
Miranda Only Applies When You Are In Custody
The Miranda ruling only applies to suspects in police custody. It does not apply to an interrogation when you are not in custody. Many interrogations by law enforcement happen when people are not in custody or under arrest. You can be questioned on the road shoulder before you are arrested and Mirandized. Just remember that you can refuse to answer anytime and call a lawyer.
Do The Police Have To Read Your Miranda Rights In Texas?
It is essential to understand how Miranda rights are applied in Texas. When a police officer approaches you, they are not required to read your Miranda rights. At this time, they can use anything you say against you, but you do not have to talk to them if you do not wish to.
If the police arrest you or put you in custody, this is when they must read your Miranda rights if they intend on conducting any further interrogation. This is because for them to ask you questions, they must ensure you know you can have a criminal defense attorney there. However, based on the recent Supreme Court opinion, if the police do not read you your rights, you cannot sue them in civil court, but any evidence they find could be thrown out.
What About DWI Failure To Read Miranda Rights?
If you are suspected of DWI and put under arrest, the police must read your Miranda rights before you are questioned further. You always have the right to remain silent and retain an attorney. You should always stay silent at this point and talk to an attorney before answering any questions.
When Is A Miranda Warning Not Required In Texas?
In Texas, the police are not required to read you your rights before arresting you. Nor are they required during initial questioning after a traffic stop based on reasonable suspicion. But it is required by the Constitution for you to get your Miranda Warning when you are taken into custody to be formally questioned. There are five other exceptions to the Miranda Warning:
- Matters that involve public safety
- A routine booking question
- Traffic violations or traffic stops
- Statements that are obtained via a jailhouse informant
- Questions of those who are not in legal custody
Suppose you are pulled over for weaving all over the road. The police are not required to Mirandize you before asking if you consumed drugs or alcohol. So, if you respond “yes” and admit to being intoxicated, this statement may be used in court against you.
Should You Talk To The Police In Texas?
You usually should not talk to the police if you have been arrested. Instead, ask for your criminal defense attorney. However, some people are talkative after arrest and may waive their Miranda rights. But remember, if they give you your Miranda Warning and you keep talking, what you say can be used against you later.
What If They Did Not Read You Your Rights?
As noted above, you may not have been read your rights if you were not taken into custody to be arrested or interrogated. The police can ask you things if they do not incriminate you. Also, remember, the police can pull you over at a traffic stop and ask questions without Mirandizing you.
Contact Our Harris County Criminal Defense Attorney
If you think your legal rights, including your Miranda rights, were violated when you were arrested, you need legal counsel today. Our Harris County criminal defense attorney at Mark Diaz & Associates can help with your case, so call (409) 515-6170.