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Understanding Miranda Rights in South Carolina

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The Miranda rights of a suspect can frequently play a pivotal role in criminal cases in South Carolina.  By knowing and using your Miranda rights in an effective way, you can protect yourself from self-incrimination.  In South Carolina criminal cases, suspects' Miranda rights can often play a central role. If you assert your Miranda rights effectively, you can save yourself against having your own words against you.

If police authorities violate your Miranda rights any evidence they collect through questioning you may be deemed inadmissible in court.  Should you waive your Miranda rights and speak with law enforcement officers voluntarily, you may do more harm than good to your case and face a conviction. 

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If you are facing a criminal charge in the Greenville area keep your rights in mind and contact a criminal defense attorney at Touma Law Group.  We have experience defending every type of criminal charge and will handle your case with the determination and tenacity that it takes to get you the best possible result from your judicial proceedings.  Call us today or book an appointment online!

What Are Miranda Rights?

The Miranda warning lists some of the basic constitutional rights protected by the 5th and 6th Amendments to the U.S. constitution. They are as follows:

  • 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 an attorney
  • If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you

These rights allow you to not answer an officer's questions after your formal arrest, and to request the presence of an public defender or private attorney at any custodial police interrogation.  Exercising these rights is strongly recommended, and can help you avoid making an incriminating statement that may damage your case.

Why Are They Called "Miranda Rights"?

The name "Miranda Rights" is derived from the case Miranda v. Arizona, heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1966.  The court ruled in a majority opinion that officers needed to inform a criminal suspect of their 5th Amendment protection against self-incrimination and their right to an attorney prior to interrogating them in police custody. 

When Do the Police Read Your Miranda Rights?

Many people believe that an officer is required to give your Miranda warning at the time of your actual arrest.  This is inaccurate, as no such requirement exists.

Law enforcement authorities must read or inform you of your rights before conducting a custodial interrogation.  This means that two conditions must be met:

  1. You must be in police custody.  This means that you will face circumstances such that you reasonably believe to are not free to leave.  This will often be at the police station, but does not necessarily have to be.
  2. You must be the subject of an interrogation.  This means that the questioning you face will be targeted toward the investigation of an alleged crime.  This may express questioning, or something seen by the court as likely to draw out an incriminating statement.  Simple questions such as those intended to confirm your identity do not qualify as an interrogation.

South Carolina police officers not required to read you your Miranda rights until both criteria are met and you are interrogated in custody. 

How Do You Exercise Your Miranda Rights?

All you have to do to invoke your Miranda rights is inform the interrogating officer that you are doing so.  You do not need to remain silent to preserve your rights, it is usually much simpler to simply tell the officer that you do not wish to speak with them.  If the questioning should continue beyond that point, you may choose to not respond.  

Will I Look Guilty by Exercising My Miranda Rights?

Absolutely not.  It is a common misconception that exercising your Miranda rights will make you look guilty. Everyone involved in the entire criminal justice process knows how risky it can be for a suspect to waive their rights.  The police officers know your rights and that it is in your best interest to have a lawyer present for questioning.  The judge knows how dangerous it can be for your case to waive your rights before consenting to a custodial interrogation.

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These are your rights put in place to protect you from harm in the criminal justice system.  Don't feel pressured to waive them because you are concerned about appearances, it could have a disastrous impact on the verdict in your criminal proceeding. 

Can I Invoke My Miranda Rights After Speaking with the Police?

You are allowed to invoke your Miranda rights at any time, but it is usually in your best interest to do so immediately. It is common for people to wait until the line of questioning turns toward topics that could implicate them in some way.  Anything you say in an interrogation prior to asserting your Miranda rights can be used by the prosecutor's office as evidence at trial.  Your best approach is to invoke your Miranda rights from the start and wait for your legal representation to arrive.

What Do I Have to Do to Waive My Miranda Rights?

The requirement for waiving your Miranda rights is that it is done so knowingly and voluntarily.  If you have been read your Miranda warning then in nearly all cases the criteria for "knowingly" will be considered met. By answering questions while in police custody after having your rights read, you will likely be meeting the "voluntary" stipulation.

Miranda Rights when being arrested

There are certain situations that could prevent a waiver of your rights from being voluntary, such as a suspect without the mental capacity to understand the circumstances, or if an incriminating statement is procured through intimidation, deceptive tactics, or acts of a coercive nature.

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As an example, consider a juvenile suspect being charged with a lesser offense.  After going through the booking process he faces coercive police conduct  that leads to him giving an incriminating statement which is later used as evidence of guilt at his criminal trial. A skilled attorney could leverage this situation to demonstrate that the suspect did not knowingly and voluntarily waive his rights which would effect the admissibility of evidence obtained during the interrogation.  

What if I was not Read My Rights?

There are two questions that need to be answered to determine what will happen if the police did not read your Miranda rights:

  1. Were they required to read them?
  2. Did you make any self-incriminating statements while in a custodial interrogation?

Police officers are not required to read you your rights if your are not a subject of a custodial interrogation.  If they were not required to give you a Miranda warning anything you say will be admissible as evidence. 

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If they were required to read your rights, but failed to do so before you answered questions in a custodial interrogation, your Miranda-defective statement may be considered derivative evidence and therefore no longer be admissible as evidence at trial.  

Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney

If you have been charged with a criminal offense remember your rights!  Invoke your Miranda rights and do not speak with the police without the presence of a criminal lawyer.  Whatever you say can be used as evidence of guilt at your trial. Whether you face a drug charge, a charge for a violent crime, or one for a lesser offense we have the experience and skill to help you mount the best defense possible for your case. 

Whether you are simply wanted for questioning or have faced a formal arrest, assert your rights to police authorities and contact a criminal defense lawyer at Touma Law Group.  We will work with you every step of the way, from interrogation to the end of judicial proceedings. 

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