Can You Sue if Your Miranda Rights Are Not Read to You?

No. You can’t pursue legal action against a police officer simply for not reading your Miranda Rights to you during an arrest. A new Supreme Court ruling protects law enforcement from civil lawsuits filed by criminal defendants in this situation.

However, this ruling does not prevent you from using an officer’s failure to read your Miranda rights during criminal proceedings. For example, when law enforcement doesn’t read you your rights, the prosecutor can’t use anything you say to build a case against you.

Understanding Miranda Rights

man being arrestedEven though you can’t file a lawsuit against a police officer for not reading your Miranda rights, you should understand what these rights entail. Law enforcement reading someone their Miranda rights means they are under arrest for a crime they allegedly committed.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Miranda v. Arizona requires officers to inform a person of their rights after an arrest but before questioning begins.

These four rights are:

  • 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 have an attorney present during questioning
  • If you can’t afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you

If law enforcement wants to ask suspected criminals any questions and use their answers as evidence against them, they must read that person their Miranda rights. The alleged offender must verbally say they understand the rights the officer reads to them. A head nod isn’t sufficient confirmation of understanding the rights.

It’s critical to know you are under no legal obligation to answer the officer’s questions. Knowing your rights means you know you don’t have to say anything. You can exercise your right to remain silent at any point and hire a lawyer.

Supreme Court Ruling About Miranda Rights

The Supreme Court issued a new ruling in Vega v. Tekoh that a Miranda rights violation is not a basis for civil action for a deprivation of rights. This means any officer who doesn’t read someone their Miranda rights during an arrest cannot face legal action by the arrested individual. Additionally, they can’t face a lawsuit for violating someone’s Miranda rights.

Every U.S. citizen is entitled to Fifth Amendment rights. However, nothing in the Constitution requires a person to receive information about these specific rights. That doesn’t mean law enforcement can choose not to read a person their Miranda rights. However, it does protect them from a lawsuit if they don’t.

criminal defenseEven though you can’t sue the police for not reading your Miranda rights, you might be able to use that failure as part of your defense strategy. An officer’s failure to read your rights doesn’t warrant an automatic case dismissal or dropped charges. Your attorney could file a motion to suppress statements you made during the interrogation. If the motion is successful, the prosecutor can’t use what you said against you in court.

For example, let’s say someone admits to committing a crime after an arrest. The prosecutor could use the admission as evidence if law enforcement read them their Miranda rights. Under other circumstances, the defense lawyer could file a motion with the court to prevent the prosecutor from using the defendant’s statement as evidence. The judge might rule in the defense lawyer’s favor if the officer didn’t read the defendant their rights during the arrest.

Hiring a criminal defense attorney after an arrest is crucial. They can start building your defense and help you navigate each step of legal proceedings. This could ensure you don’t say anything incriminating that could negatively affect the outcome of your case.

Contact Hart Powell, S.C. Today

Hart Powell, S.C. has defended clients in Wisconsin since 1993. We dedicate our time and resources to every case we take. Our legal team understands the life-altering consequences of an arrest and criminal charges, and we know that you could face expensive fines and imprisonment. You need an experienced lawyer to protect your rights and fight for you in court.

Our award-winning criminal defense attorneys in Milwaukee have received recognition from multiple organizations, including Super Lawyers and The National Trial Lawyers. We’ve also earned a 10.0 Superb rating from Avvo. Our reputation speaks for itself and shows the unmatched quality of legal representation we offer our clients.

If law enforcement arrested you for a crime and the officer didn’t read your Miranda rights, contact the Milwaukee criminal defense lawyers of Hart Powell, S.C. immediately. We can review the circumstances of your case and create a defense to try to get the charges against you dropped. Let us help you fight for your freedom and future. Call us at (414) 271-9595 for a confidential consultation.

Written by Michael Hart & Craig Powell

Last Updated : October 18, 2022