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Michigan Criminal Law Blog

Miranda Rights

Miranda Rights, as they are commonly referred to today, are the result of the 1966 Supreme Court case – Miranda v. Arizona.  In this case, the Court determined that when a suspect is put into police “custody,” he or she must be informed of their Fifth Amendment right to avoid making self-incriminating statements before being questioned.   If the police fail to advise the suspect of  their Rights, the involuntary statements made by the suspect are generally not to be admissible in a criminal case (and this includes any evidence that is discovered as a result of a statement or confession obtained unlawfully as well).

It is important to note that the police officers are not required to have to warn a suspect of his or her Miranda Rights if the officer does not plan on questioning the suspect or evoking a statement.  If the statements are made spontaneously by the subject, they may be admissible in court.  In addition, the pertinent inquiry regarding “in custody” is whether, based on the totality of the circumstances, there is restraint or freedom of movement in any significant way such as the degree associated with formal arrest.  It further noted that custody must be determined based on how a “reasonable person” in the suspect’s situation would perceive his circumstances.   In Michigan, as in a majority of states, custody remains somewhat an abstract notion dependent on the type of crime and circumstances of the arrest.  Attorney’s generally recommend to their clients that, when in doubt, it is much better to stay silent then to make incriminating statements that can be potentially turned against you in court.

When assessing the validity of a defendant’s statements, questions to consider are: (1) Was the defendant in custody at the time he or she made the statements? (2) If the defendant was in custody, was the client advised of his or her Miranda rights? (3) Did the defendant understand the Miranda warnings? For example, did drugs or alcohol inhibit the defendant’s capacity to understand the instructions, or were there education or language barriers that prevented the defendant’s understanding of the warning.  (4)Was the confession freely and voluntarily made? In Michigan, courts apply a totality of circumstances test to determine whether a promise of leniency induced an involuntary confession.   A defendant, also, should be asked about his or her physical and emotional state at the time of arrest and interrogation, so as to evaluate if the defendants statements made were in anyway the result of illegal police coercion.

HYTA – Holmes Youthful Trainee Act
Michigan OWI and Michigan Public Health Code

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