Where Do Miranda Right Come into Play? What is The Purpose of It?
Interviewer: What are Miranda rights? What do they actually mean? How does it function? What’s the purpose of it?
Zach Peagler: The purpose of it is to make sure that individuals that are under investigation or are going to likely be charged with a crime aren’t under any presumption that what they say to the officer can’t be used against them, and so that’s the most famous line in there: you have the right to remain silent, but anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. It’s just to make sure that those individuals are not flying under the assumption that they can just talk to this other person and it won’t incriminate them. It’s not that at all. They’re trying to build a case against you, and so if you say incriminating things, they’re going to come back to haunt you.
I would say in a large majority of our cases, unfortunately, the defendant has said things before they ever talk to a lawyer that has really made their case very difficult. I would advise people if they end up in a situation where they’re being Mirandized to do one of two things: use your right to remain silent, or use your right to have an attorney present during the interrogation.
Interviewer: If someone didn’t have their Miranda rights read to them, does that mean the case is automatically dismissed?
Zach Peagler: No, it doesn’t. We get that question all the time, and it depends on what kind of case it is, but for instance, in a traffic stop that results in a DUI arrest, Miranda rights are not necessary. The officer can make a reasonable investigation, and if it leads to evidence that allows him to charge someone with a misdemeanor crime of DUI, then the Miranda rights aren’t necessary. I probably get that question from 9 out of every 10 people that end up hiring us for a DUI. The reason I get it so much is because they don’t get Mirandized. Most of the officers that arrest people for DUI never read them their Miranda rights, and it’s because it’s not necessary.
In a felony case, if they’re bringing you in to investigate you on a felony, and they’re trying to get a warrant to arrest you for that felony, then they do have to advise you of your Miranda rights. Again, 99 out of 100 times they do that, because, like I said, for the most part, the police that we’re dealing with in our jurisdiction are well versed in the law and they don’t make a lot of mistakes in that area. Now, they can make mistakes in how they deliver the Miranda rights, and so that’s an important thing for us to look into. We’ve had people that have signed forms acknowledging their Miranda rights, and those individuals can’t even read at a high enough level to comprehend what the form says.
You don’t want to leave any stone unturned, but your case isn’t automatically thrown out if you weren’t Mirandized.
Possible Case Outcomes
Interviewer: When you’re defending someone, how often can you get charges dropped, dismissed, or reduced so the situation isn’t so serious?
Zach Peagler: I would say that the majority of our cases end up in a favorable plea agreement for the defendant. If they hire a lawyer, start overturning all the rocks to look for the evidence, get a full picture of the case, and allow us to present our side of the story to the district attorney or to the city prosecutor, then the vast majority of cases result in a negotiated plea agreement that is more beneficial to the criminal defendant than if they had just gone in there and pled guilty right from the outset.
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