Do the Police Always Have to Read You Your Rights?

Anytime the police take someone into custody and interrogate them, they are required to provide that individual with a Miranda warning — a reading of their rights to remain silent and other rights guaranteed to them by the Fifth Amendment. Absent that warning, any evidence the police may gain will be inadmissible in court.

However, there are circumstances where the police do not have to read you your rights — one is the emergency exception and the other is the public safety exception.

Emergency Exception to Miranda Rule

If officers are responding to a potential emergency and have reason to believe that their help is needed immediately because of personal injury or property damage, they do not need to provide a Miranda warning.

In one high-profile case, the New York Supreme Court held that a Miranda warning was not necessary because police were responding to someone who was in immediate danger. The court found that the emergency doctrine applied when police have a reasonable belief that their immediate assistance is needed, are not secretly motivated by a desire to arrest someone and seize evidence and there is reason to believe that the emergency is nearby.

Public Safety Exception to Miranda Rule

In 1984, the U.S. Supreme Court held that a police officer’s concern for public safety can justify a failure to provide a Miranda warning. However, courts differ on what exactly constitutes a treat to public safety.

Some courts have held that the public safety exception applies in any dangerous situation, whether or not the officer is aware of the actual threat. Other courts have found that the exception only applies when an officer knows of an immediate threat. However, what is agreed is that police officers must focus their questioning on the issue that is causing the immediate safety concern.

Whether you are facing a serious federal white-collar prosecution, a state murder charge, or misdemeanor charges, The Cogdell Law Firm has the experience, knowledge and reputation you want for your legal team. When results matter most, contact Dan Cogdell at (713) 426-2244 or