Houman Fakhimi

Rancho Cucamonga Criminal Defense Lawyers Underscore Miranda Rights

Rancho Cucamonga Criminal Defense Attorney Houman Fakhimi understands that in the wake of the Boston bombings that have dominated the headlines in recent weeks, it was recently revealed that authorities had been questioning the surviving 19-year-old suspect from his hospital bed - until he was read his Miranda Rights.

At that point, media reports indicate the suspect immediately stopped answering questions and "lawyered up."

Whether federal prosecutors will actually be able to use any of the information obtained prior to that reading in the court case against the defendant is a question that's been debated by legal scholars, as the questioning was conducted under the public safety exemption of the Miranda rule. This is an extremely rare exception that holds that even if you repeatedly request an attorney - as this suspect apparently did - authorities may continue to question you regarding imminent threats.

It wasn't until a federal judge decided to step in at the suspect's hospital bedside that he was read his Miranda rights. At that point, he stopped talking.

Some have criticized the fact that the interrogation was halted when it was, saying important details of future threats might have been obtained. Others have said it's a miscarriage of justice that the questioning went on as long as it did without the suspect being read his rights and after he had requested a lawyer.

But again, this is extremely rare, and our criminal defense attorneys want to make it very clear to anyone who has been following the coverage: You DO have the right to consult with an attorney before submitting to an interrogation with police and you DON'T have to answer any questions that might result in self-incrimination. You have the right to remain silent.

While many of us have no doubt heard of "Miranda Rights" before, usually depicted by Hollywood, few may have a real grasp of exactly what they are and why they are so critically important to remember if you are ever arrested.

The case that resulted in these rights being formalized was Miranda v. Arizona, a U.S. Supreme Court decision handed down in 1966. It is in effect a warning that must be provided by police to criminal suspects who are in police custody before they are interrogated. This reading advises the suspect of aspects of the Fifth and Sixth Amendment, allowing that he or she has the right to protect themselves against self-incrimination by remaining silent and/or consulting with a defense lawyer prior to questioning.

The reason this is so important is that if authorities do not read an in-custody suspect these rights or if they aren't read correctly, any information the suspect gives can't be used against him or her in court.

It's worth noting that it doesn't apply if you aren't under arrest. So police don't have to inform you of this right if you aren't actually in custody. That's why police may attempt to question you extensively before you are actually under arrest. Don't allow it. Politely but firmly say you do not wish to answer any questions relative to the investigation. If they continue to press the issue, ask whether you are under arrest or if you are free to go. If you are free to go, do so. If not, decline to answer any questions before you have had the opportunity to consult with a defense lawyer.

Contact Houman Fakhimi trial attorney at (714) 705-6701 as soon as possible if you are arrested in Rancho Cucamonga.

Additional Resources

Miranda rights silenced Boston bombing suspect, April 25, 2013, By Richard A. Serrano, Ken Dilanian and Brian Bennett, The Los Angeles Times.