One of the most frequently asked questions that I get from my clients is something like this: "the officer who arrested me never read me my rights. Does that mean they have to drop the charges?" The short answer is always "No." Below is a more detailed explanation as to why that is true.
"Miranda Rights" are something of an enigma. The term comes from the Supreme Court Case Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966). The rights afforded to the accused come from the United States Constitution. There has long been a serious misunderstanding of what the police are required to do to comply with the Court's ruling in this and subsequent cases, much of this misunderstanding has been caused by the portrayal of "Miranda Rights" in movies and on television.
The standard Miranda Warning goes something like this: "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 speak to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to you. Do you understand these rights as they have been read to you?"
These rights must be explained to a suspect prior to custodial interrogation or any statements made by that suspect will not be admissible in court. This means that if the police are arresting a suspect and they don't need to ask that suspect any questions, there is no need to read the Miranda Warning. Further, if the police are asking a suspect questions, but that suspect is not in custody, there is no need to read the Miranda Warning. Finally, it means that even if the suspect is in custody and the police interrogate him or her without giving a Miranda Warning, the suspect could still be convicted of the crime that they are charged with as long as the DA doesn't need the statements made by the suspect at the time of questioning.