WHEN AND HOW DO MIRANDA RIGHTS COME INTO PLAY IN A CRIMINAL CASE?
Sept. 28, 2020
The Miranda Warnings are a set of legal protections the police are required to tell an alleged suspect. This is supposed to happen before the police interrogate that person about the incident. Many times on TV, you see a police officer arresting someone while they mumble their Miranda Rights, all that is theatrics. In reality, the Miranda Rights are used when a person is taken to a police station, or interviewed at the scene of a crime, or anywhere else. Law enforcement would ask that person if they are willing to tell them what happened, because the police are investigating the crime, and the attorney is trying to ascertain the full story.
The Miranda Rights include the right to an attorney, the right to remain silent, and the caution that whatever information, whatever statements they make to the police can and will be used against that person in court. The suspect is aware that whatever they tell the police is going to be used as evidence in the case. They are told that they have the right not to talk to any law enforcement. The only thing anyone really has to offer to police is their name and address. Beyond that, the police have no right to request any information from you, if you choose that situation. That applies to both witnesses and suspects in all criminal cases. These protections apply anywhere, on the road, street, at home, at a workplace, anywhere where the police would confront someone, even at station for that matter.
How Does Having Good Character and A Clean Prior Record Impact a Criminal Case?
Having a clean record and moral character is important on several stages. First of all, the first statement comes before the court is the issue of bail. If the person has been arrested, and has not yet posted the bond or bailed out, then the court will review whether the bail should be lowered from the standard bail schedule that police put into effect when that person has been arrested. For example, a class C felony, that is the lowest level of a felony, the standard bail would be $10,000. However, when the case goes before a judge for the first time, the defendant, or their attorney can ask for a bail study, and the reduction of that bail. A bail study is where a probation officer or other official of the court reviews the person’s life circumstances. That person will make a recommendation to the judge in how much bail is necessary, and appropriate for that person. Many times that results in bail being reduced, say, from $10,000 to $1,000, or even the person being released on their own recognizance. That can happen more readily if employed, no prior record, and long-term residency.
The judge knows, “They are not going to run away, so we don’t need a lot of bail to secure their appearance and to ensure their appearance in court”. This comes into play with proper employment, family, and generally a good citizen. If I can present this to the prosecuting attorney during plea bargain negotiations, this is pretty much an isolated event, then they are much more likely to agree to reduce charges, or put the person on probation without having to serve jail time. They may defer acceptance of the plea, which is a way that we have in Hawaii, for a person to keep the clean record if they have no prior record, and if they are unlikely to commit the crime, or any crimes thereafter.
The same applies when it is time for a judge to both sentences, assuming there has been either a guilty verdict at trial, or a plea bargain. If the person pled no contest to the charge, then the judge will studying the person, get a plea sentence report that is detailed in terms of what happened, but also the person’s circumstances of their life in general. If the judge finds that they are basically a decent person who has good moral character, then the judge would be more inclined to put them on probation, and give them a lighter sentence, or no jail at all, and possibly allow them to have a clean record.
Do Most Criminal Cases Go to Trial or Do They Settle?
Almost all criminal cases settle; at least ninety-five percent of them do. It is always the person’s option to go to trial, and if the person believes they are not guilty, then I encourage them to let me take the case to trial. I do not want any of my clients taking responsibility, and punished for an offense that they did not commit.
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