What Are Miranda Rights and How Do They Apply in Arizona DUI Cases?

The Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides that those who are charged with criminal offenses have the right to counsel at all critical stages of a legal proceeding. Relatedly, the Fifth Amendment provides that no person can be compelled to be a witness against themselves in a criminal trial.

Thus, in the 1966 case, Miranda v. Arizona, the United States Supreme Court held that police must provide certain rights at the time of arrest. Primarily, officers are required to inform arrestees that they have the right to remain silent, that anything they say can be used against them, and that they are entitled to an attorney, even if they cannot afford one.

Miranda rights must be read to someone any time they are subject to “custodial interrogation.” While the term is subject to varying interpretations, to establish custodial interrogation, a defendant must show that they were in custody and that police made some statement that would be expected to elicit a response. If police officers do not provide Miranda warnings at the time of arrest, any statements that are made by the arrestee cannot be used in a criminal trial against them.

It is a common misconception that a police officer’s failure to read Miranda warnings invalidates the arrest itself. That is not the case. The remedy for a violation of Miranda rights is the suppression of a statement that may not have otherwise been made. In addition, courts will take into factors into account when determining the appropriate remedy for a Miranda violation.

Court Applies Harmless-Error Analysis in Recent Arizona DUI Case

Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in an Arizona DUI case requiring the court determine if the defendant was entitled to a new trial based on the fact that police did not read the defendant his Miranda warnings at the time of his arrest. In that case, the defendant was charged with a DUI after another motorist was rear-ended. Evidently, the motorist that had been struck told police that the driver who had rear-ended her was male and got out of the driver’s side door before leaving the scene.

Police located the defendant nearby and arrested him after allegedly noticing he was exhibiting signs of intoxication. Video captured police interrogating the handcuffed defendant, accusing him of driving the car and asking about his role in the collision. The defendant continually denied all involvement in the collision. The defendant’s case proceeded to trial, and he was convicted of several DUI related charges.

On appeal, the court determined that while the defendant’s statements were improperly admitted at trial, the error was harmless and his conviction should be affirmed. The court explained that even if the defendant’s statements would have been excluded from evidence, the result of the trial would have been the same because the defendant’s statements were not against his interest. Because the error in admitting the statements was harmless, the court determined there was no remedy necessary for the violation of the defendant’s rights.

Have You Been Arrested after Being Subject to Interrogation?

Police officers routinely push the limits of what they are permitted to ask during Arizona traffic stops. Too often, police officers attempt to illicit harmful information that can later be used in a criminal prosecution. Unsuspecting motorists routinely comply with police questioning out of fear they have no other choice. At the Law Office of James E. Novak, we represent those who are facing serious Arizona DUI charges. We provide full-service representation from the inception of a case all the way through appeal, if necessary. We have in-depth knowledge of the state’s DUI laws and put this knowledge to use for our clients at every stage of their case. To learn more, call 480-413-1499 to schedule a free consultation today.

Additional Resources:

Other Articles of Interest from The Law Office of James Novak’s Phoenix DUI Blog:

Arizona Court Condones Officer’s Arrest of Defendant, Despite Potentially Innocent Explanation for Signs of Intoxication, Phoenix DUI Law Blog, September 12, 2018

Court Discusses Notice Requirement in Recent Arizona Aggravated DUI Case, Phoenix DUI Law Blog, September 28, 2018

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