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What happens if I was not read my Miranda rights in Utah?

On television, police officers customarily begin reading suspects their Miranda rights as the handcuffs are being placed on their wrists. In the real world, things work differently.

A police officer's failure to read the Miranda rights may be one of the most critical facts in developing a defense strategy for a Utah criminal case. Or it may turn out to be an insignificant distraction. To understand how an officer's failure to read the Miranda rights may affect your case, it is vital to have the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Contact us today to schedule confidential consultation with Utah criminal lawyer Stephen Howard.

Purposes of the Miranda Rights in a Utah Criminal Defense Case

The Miranda warnings are based on the United States Constitution's Fifth Amendment, which guarantees criminal defendants the privilege against self-incrimination (the right to remain silent). This right has been interpreted as preventing a defendant in a criminal case from being required to testify or give evidence against himself or herself.

The Miranda warnings were established by the United States Supreme Court in a case entitled Miranda v. Arizona in 1966. These warnings are intended to notify a criminal suspect of his or her constitutional rights, and allow the person the opportunity to make an informed decision as to whether to invoke those rights.

A typical version of the Miranda warnings is as follows: "You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to speak to an attorney, and to have an attorney present during any questioning. If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be provided for you at government expense."

When Miranda Warnings Must Be Given

But what happens if you are arrested and police do not read you your Miranda rights? That depends on the specific circumstances of your case. In some cases, a police officer's failure to read Miranda warnings can result in all charges being dismissed. In other cases, it may mean nothing.

The requirement to give the Miranda warnings is triggered when police engage in a custodial interrogation. This means that the police must be asking questions relating to the investigation of the crime, and that ther person being questioned must be in custody. If police question a suspect, witness, or other individual who is not in custody, Miranda warnings are not required.

The question of when a person is "in custody" is not always black-and-white. A person walking freely down the street would not be considered to be in custody for purposes of Miranda. A person who is handcuffed and going through the booking process in jail would clearly be in custody. But what about a person who is sitting in the back of a police patrol car to keep warm? What about a person who appears voluntarily at a police station for an interview?

Because there are many grey areas in determining when a person is in custody, many police officers will err on the side of caution and give the Miranda warnings even when they may not be technically required by law.

Consequences of Failing to Give Miranda Warnings

A police officer's failure to give the Miranda warnings when required can result in evidence being suppressed. A confession or other statements made by a defendant in violation of Miranda may be suppressed. Evidence obtained by police as a result of the Miranda violation may also be suppressed as "fruit of the poisonous tree." When a court orders evidence suppressed, that evidence can no longer be used by the prosecutor at trial.

In order to obtain a suppression order, a defendant must first file a motion to suppress. Most often, the court will hold an evidentiary hearing where both the defense and the prosecutor will be allowed to present witnesses and testimony on the question of whether statements were made by the defendant in the context of a custodial interrogation, and whether the police failed to give the required Miranda warnings prior to the point that the defendant made the statements.

Finding a Utah Criminal Defense Attorney in Salt Lake City

Salt Lake Criminal Defense AttorneyStephen Howard is an experienced criminal defense lawyer based in Salt Lake City and practicing throughout Utah. He has achieved dismissals for clients on successful motions to suppress, as well as not guilty verdicts or dismissals on cases including aggravated robbery, burglary, forgery, theft, DUI's, drug charges, and more.

If you are facing criminal charges in Utah, you deserve to have an experienced criminal attorney on your side. Contact us now to schedule you initial consultation.


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Serving Salt Lake, Davis, Weber, Utah, Cache, Tooele, Summit, Box Elder, and Wasatch Counties, and all of Utah.

Attorney Stephen Howard practices as part of the Canyons Law Group, LLC and Stephen W. Howard, PC.

Offices in Salt Lake and Davis Counties
560 South 300 East, Suite 200, Salt Lake City, UT 84111
952 S. Main St., Suite A, Layton, UT 84041

Call now to arrange for a confidential initial consultation with an experienced and effective Utah criminal defense lawyer.

In Salt Lake City, call 801-449-1409.
In Davis County, call 801-923-4345.

Stephen W. Howard, PC

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