Did we have to admit what we had done based on the Miranda rights?

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Did we have to admit what we had done based on the Miranda rights?

Recently some friends and I were pulled over after shooting a woman with a paintball. A man chased after us and flagged a police officer down while going through town. The officer then listened to the mans story of how we shot his friend. Then we were asked ot exit our vehicle and were all searched. He told us if we didnt tell him the truth all of us would be arrested, so my buddy fessed up to shooting the gun. We were never told we didnt have to answer any questions and we never gave consent to have the car searched they just had us all sit on the curb and did it.

Asked on May 16, 2009 under Criminal Law, North Carolina

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

You may be stopped for questioning by the police.  A stop is not the same as an arrest because, although you may be detained, you aren't moved to a different location.  During a stop the police officer may ask you questions, but you have the right to refuse to answer.  Miranda rights do not have to be read until you are taken into custody.  That means that before you are taken into custody you can be questioned by the police and anything you say can be used against you later in court.  

As for the search, police can search without consent when they see an object that is in plain view of an officer who has the right to be in the position to have that view.  Here, the officer could claim that he saw the paintball gun in the car when he walked over to question you.

Additionally, since you were in a vehicle, if you were subsequently arrested (and hopefully read your rights at that time) the police could then search the inside of the vehicle.  To perform a complete search of the car (such as in locked glove compartments, for example), probable cause would have to have been be necessary.

Since I don't have more facts it's hard to say for sure.  You need to speak with a criminal attorney in the area where all of this happened.  Hopefully with his contacts with the local prosecutor's office he may be able to get the charges reduced and/or obtain some form of alternative sentence for you.  If this was your first offense that would be greatly helpful here.


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