What Are Your Miranda Rights?
Interviewer: Do Miranda rights come into play in federal cases?
Paul: They absolutely do. Agents will advise everyone they speak with that they have the right to have counsel present. The issue is that your Miranda rights only come into play if you are in custody.
Suppose agents show up at your house and say, “We’re just doing our job here. We need to get some information. Do you mind if we come in and speak with you? You are free to tell us we have to leave.”
Well if the person nervously says, “Okay. Come on in. Let me get you a cup of coffee,” then they are not technically ‘in custody.’ Miranda is not at issue if the person is not ‘in custody.’
So agents may show up at your home and ask politely if they can come in to talk to you. They may show up at your place of business and ask if they can step into your office and talk to you. That is not the same thing as an interrogation room downtown at the police department. You are not in custody, and so Miranda really does not come into play.
Invariably, I have seen officers still say to the person, “You know, you don’t have to answer our questions. You don’t have to let us in. You can tell us to leave. You can have a lawyer present if you want. But, we just want to give you the opportunity to help yourself out.”
So not only is the person not in custody, but the officer, in a roundabout way, advises them of their Miranda rights even though they do not necessarily have to. So they really have insulation for any statements that person ends up making.
Interviewer: Even though they do that, do you still see a lot of cases where people talk to agents without counsel?
Paul: Yes, I see far too many cases where a person has already answered law enforcement questions before ever looking for or hiring a criminal defense lawyer to protect them. Occasionally I will have someone contact me and say, “Look, they came to my house. I did not say anything at all. I told them I was going to get a lawyer.”
However, more often than not, someone will hire me, then they say, “Well, the agents were at my office or my house yesterday. Let me tell you what I told them.” They then walk me through whatever information they already provided, before I had a chance to sort of position myself between them and the government.
“The Importance of Aggressive Federal Criminal Defense”.
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