If I was arrested for but was not read my Miranda rights, what should I do?

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If I was arrested for but was not read my Miranda rights, what should I do?

Officers arrested me for theft by shoplifting (first offense) last night. At no point did they read me my Miranda Rights, and at no point from the time of the arrest to the time when I was released on bond was I informed on how I could have an attorney appointed to me since I cannot afford one (I’m a full time college student). I was given a ticket for $623 and given a court date for12/01. What should I do and what should I expect? I know what I did was wrong, and I already have plans to start community service this weekend. Should I plead guilty?

Asked on October 26, 2010 under Criminal Law, Georgia

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Many people believe that any time a person is placed under arrest they must be read their Miranda warning. This is a myth. The Miranda warning must only be given if a person is in custody and then questioned.  However, once a person is in custody and then questioned without being Mirandized, then any statements so made cannot be used. The 2 exceptions to this: the statements were voluntarily and knowingly made anyway (ie the defendant waived his rights); or the questioning was incidental to the booking process (ie. name, address, etc).

Note: Any questioning before being taken into custody is legal.

At this point, you should consult with a criminal attorney. There are possible defenses that can be enlisted in your case which could result in a reduced charge or outright dismissal. Your best bet is to now consult with one in the area where all of this occurred. Since money is an issue, see if you qualifies for representation by the PD or legal aid or see if they can recommend someone to help you.  Also, check if there is a law school nearby to where the arrest took place; they typically run free/low cost clinics that handle these type cases.  Additionally, contact the local Bar Association in the county where the proceedings are being held; they may have a list of attorneys who will take your case "pro bono" (for free) or at least for a reduced fee based on your income/circumstances.

Also, as a "first-time offender" you may be able to apply for something known as "deferred adjudication" or "diversion" (or GA's equivalent).  If eligible, you plead guilty to the charge, receive a special probation and, if successfully completed, have the charge withdrawn and your case dismissed.  If you stay out of any other trouble your arrest record cleared. 

Note:  You may want to fight the charge instead of automatically accepting diversion because if you ever find yourself in a similar situation it will not be available to you then; diversion is only avaialbe to first time offenders.


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