Articles Tagged with constitutional rights

Everybody has heard of Miranda rights, but few actually understand what they are and what they do. You may be surprised to learn that police officers do not always have to read you your Miranda rights when they are questioning or even arresting you?  Sounds crazy, but it’s true.  

The name “Miranda” came from the landmark United States Supreme Court case Miranda v. Arizona in 1966. The issue was whether police officers had to advise a person of his or her Constitutional rights before questioning them about a crime.  What constitutional rights?  The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution provides the constitutional right against self-incrimination.  In other words, the government can’t make you tell them anything that may incriminate you.  And the person must be told that he or she has the right to consult with an attorney to discuss the Fifth Amendment right.  So, out of the Miranda case, came the Miranda rights or warnings that we all have become accustomed to when someone is arrested.

miranda rule
But Miranda rights only relate to custodial interrogation and the right against self incrimination.  So, if you don’t incriminate yourself, no Miranda rights are required.  And law enforcement must only advise you of your Miranda rights before interrogating you in a custodial setting.  Whether a person is in custody depends on what a reasonable person in the person’s place would believe that they were in custody.  So if officers don’t interrogate you or it’s not in a custodial setting, then they don’t have to read you your rights.  

In federal criminal courts, when a person is convicted of a drug offense with a minimum mandatory sentence provision, there are only two ways that allow a federal judge to go below that statutory minimum mandatory sentence: a 5K motion filed by the federal prosecutor if the client provides substantial assistance to the government or the safety valve provision of 18 U.S.C. §3553(f).  Congress recently broadened the safety valve provision and one particular section has been subjected to intense litigation resulting in varying outcomes from the various circuits.  

If otherwise qualified under different subsections, a person is eligible for the safety valve, and therefore a sentence below a statutory minimum mandatory sentence under §3553(f)(1) if:

  1. The defendant does not have –
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