As criminal defense lawyers who handle all varieties of criminal cases in state and federal court in Florida, particularly in the Jacksonville area, we get a lot of good questions from clients about the legal process in Florida. One common question from clients pertains to Miranda warnings. Most people understand Miranda warnings to be those statements from the police officer to the suspect when he/she is being arrested. The police officer is supposed to inform the person, among other things, that he/she has a right to remain silent, that if he/she says anything it can and will be used against him/her in court and he/she has a right to a lawyer before and during any questioning by police.
Anyone suspected of, or arrested for, a crime would do well to heed those warnings. All too often we see people giving all sorts of statements to police that do nothing but help the police make their case against them. If you are unsure about whether it is prudent to talk to the police or anyone else about your case, the best course of action would be to contact a criminal defense attorney who can properly advise you on that subject and anything else related to your criminal case.
But what happens if the police officer never gives the Miranda warnings to the suspect? Some people we have spoken to asked if that means the charges must be dropped because the arrest was invalid. That is not necessarily the case. Miranda warnings deal with statements given by suspects to the police when they are in custody. If the police officer does not give Miranda warnings, but no statement is given to the police by the suspect, the failure to give Miranda warnings may have no effect on the case. However, if a person is taken into custody by the police, no Miranda warnings are given and the person does give a statement to the police, that statement can be found to be inadmissible and thrown out of court. If the state cannot prove their case without that statement, the failure to give Miranda warnings could ultimately result in the criminal charges being dropped.