Does the Miranda Warning Always Apply in Florida?

March 20, 2021

If you’ve watched any police procedurals in your lifetime, you’ve heard the Miranda warnings: “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 provided for you.” These aren’t just phrases used to heighten the dramatic effect—they’re important parts of the legal process. If you’re arrested in Florida and no one gives you Miranda warnings, it could have a significant impact on your case.

Here’s what you need to know about Miranda warnings and whether they apply in Florida.

What are Miranda warnings?

Miranda warnings are part of your Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. When you’re arrested, the police officer should read you the Miranda warnings and ask if you understand. If they do not, they may not be able to use any incriminating evidence from police interviews against you.

However, do not expect that this is a get out of jail free card—there are other ways prosecutors can try to get evidence admitted. The best thing you can do is to refuse to speak to the police and immediately ask for an attorney.

The rights come from a 1966 Supreme Court case called Miranda v. Arizona. Once you invoke your Miranda rights—that is, refusing to talk and asking for an attorney—all questioning must stop immediately.

Exceptions to the Miranda rule

There are some key exceptions to the Miranda rule that you’ll want to be aware of. Watch out in the following situations:

  • You’re technically not “in custody”: Here’s a good rule of thumb: never talk to the police if you’re under suspicion of committing a crime. Miranda warnings only apply to what’s called “custodial interrogation,” meaning that you are in police custody and they are asking questions about the crime. (This doesn’t apply to things like your name, age, address and other administrative details.) If you start talking before you’re arrested, that evidence can be used in court. It’s best to immediately ask for a lawyer.
  • You’ve been stopped for a traffic violation: Traffic stops are not considered “custody” for the purposes of the Fifth Amendment and Miranda warnings. That means you can’t tell a cop you want to remain silent when they ask for your license and registration—or if you know how fast you were driving.
  • You’re loitering: Florida criminal law allows the police to stop and question someone who appears to be loitering in a way that could affect public safety. They can ask for your identification and what you’re doing in the area. If you refuse to answer, they can arrest you for loitering—and then you can refuse to talk.
  • There’s an applicable public safety or terrorism violation: Finally, public safety issues or terrorism supersede the need for Miranda warnings. If you’re an imminent threat, the police can subdue you and then Mirandize you later.

If you’ve been accused of a crime, call a skilled criminal defense attorney right away. K.J. Law P.A. can help ensure your rights are upheld.

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