What Are Miranda Rights And When Do They Become Applicable?
When I deal with DUI clients, they ask about their Miranda rights all the time. The first thing they say to me “I did not feel like I was impaired or over the limit at all”. The second thing they tell me is “they never advised me of my rights until I was in jail”. I then explain to them that Miranda rights only come into play when a client is in custody with the police, and that is subject to interrogation. Many times the police officer has probable cause to arrest you. For example, with a DUI after a field sobriety test, they can handcuff you, put you in the back of the car, and not say a word to you other than you are under arrest for a DUI. They will transport you to the station, ask for a chemical sample, your breath, or your blood test, and not read you your Miranda rights because you are in custody, indefinitely.
Once you have been arrested, you are considered in custody, but the officers will not be interrogating you right away. They are not looking for many incriminating statements that the state would need to convict you, because the state is mainly going to rely on the chemical test results. Although the driver may say, “Well I had a couple of drinks before I left the bar”, that statement is not needed to convict you. Once they process you for a DUI, and they have the results from the breath, or blood test, then they will read you your Miranda rights, and ask questions. At that point, they have to, because they are at the station, or the jail, and now you are being subjected to interrogation. The officer might ask where did you come from?
What time did you leave? Are you under the influence of anything? When was the last time you had a drink? Those are all the questions that will be asked while you are in custody. There are two parts to this process. Custodial interrogation; interrogation is clear, someone is asking me questions about an alleged crime, but the custody thing is a little bit more tricky. If the officer shows up at your house to investigate a theft, and you invite them into your home, and sit down, at this point they are asking you questions about the incident that took place, and if you have any information. Even then, you are not in custody in that situation, because you are in your own home. You can always ask that officer to leave at any time.
You are being interrogated, but not in custody, so Miranda does not really apply. The officers should read you your rights just to be safe. One more thing, those statements that are given should be given freely and voluntarily. Many times, I have had to argue where the police had the client in custody, they had been interrogating my client, but they were under the influence of some kind of narcotic, or alcohol. Most clients are not really thinking clearly. Sometimes they have been involved in an accident after a DUI, and they are not coherent enough to answer questions properly.
Those statements were not freely and voluntarily given. Many times once the paramedics are there, they will administer narcotics, and then at the hospital more medication will be given. At that point, we can show that they are under the influence of drugs, because the medical staff gave them to the suspect, thus their statements are not freely and voluntarily given. That is how Miranda Rights play out. The two main points are that you are in custody, and you are subject to interrogation.
What is The Difference Between Misdemeanor And Felony Charges In Utah?
The difference between misdemeanor and felony charge is that misdemeanor charges only carry a maximum penalty of a jail sentence. In the state of Utah, you can have a Class C misdemeanor, a Class B misdemeanor, and a Class A misdemeanor with C being the lowest misdemeanor, and A being the highest. That means the judge can put you in jail for an A misdemeanor for up to a year, for a B misdemeanor, it is a maximum of six months, and a C misdemeanor is a maximum of ninety days. There is no prison time on the table. Those maximum days in jail are a specific number. A judge can say for a Class C misdemeanor, I am going to give you one-hundred and twenty days or more.
In Utah, you have a Felony 3, 2, and a Felony 1 with the felony 1 being the most serious, as in causing the death of someone. A felony 3 is the lowest, like distribution of marijuana. On a felony, you could go to prison, lose your right to vote, lose all types of constitutional guarantees, or the right to possess and carry a weapon and so forth. The sentencing on those is indeterminate. On a 3rd degree felony, the maximum is five years in prison, but when the judge sentences someone, they usually comment from zero to five years. Then it is determined how much time they are actually going to stay in prison.
The judge is not stating a specific number of days that you are going to stay in prison, whereas they do in jail. On a second-degree felony in Utah, it is one to fifteen years in state prison. Then the Board of Pardons, once they take your case, will decide whether it will be one, two, or even ten years, this is the same thing with first-degree felonies. That is kind of the difference, but the big difference is jail time versus prison time. There are specific number of days versus indeterminate, of course, felonies affect your rights particularly your gun rights, and sometimes they do not go away. You cannot expunge them, or clear your record.
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