By Natalie Gallegos
Have you ever watched a sensationalized crime television show where the bad guy is eventually taken down by the police and all is right in the world? Odds are, if you have, you’ve seen the officers recite the criminal their “Miranda Rights.” These rights are one of the few true aspects of these fictionalized shows. Your Miranda Rights are a constitutional right guaranteed under the 5th Amendment following the 1966 U.S Supreme Court’s decision in Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U. S. 436.
The specific spiel you hear is also true. These rights include the right to remain silent, that anything said can be used against you in a court of law, that you have the right to a lawyer, and if you can not afford one, one will be appointed to you. The arresting officer is in charge of reciting these rights to you at any point during custody and plays a pivotal role in the officer’s ability to gather evidence from answers provided, given they did relay the rights. Having a defendant in custody is the main ingredient in having to communicate Miranda Rights, if there is no custody, no Miranda warning is necessary.
So, let’s say you get arrested and the police have enough probable cause to get the court system's gears rolling towards a conviction. You realize that the arresting officer failed to ever recite your Miranda Rights to you and never even mentioned them while you were in custody. You think, “Are these grounds for suing? Can I take civil or legal action against this officer for failing to recite me my Miranda rights?"
The Supreme Court of the United States just declared you have no legal right to sue the officer for not reading you your rights. In June of 2022, Vega V. Tekoh, 597 U. S. ___(2022) was decided and the S.C.O.T.U.S decided there is no violation of civil rights when an officer fails to read someone in custody their Miranda Rights and there is no basis for civil action, further arguing the right to sue would not be beneficial and cost the court system tons of money in the long run.
The crux of this specific case was whether the written confession provided by the Defendant, Tekoh, should be thrown out since the arresting officer, Vega, did not read him his Miranda Rights. After a couple of years, a writ of certiorari was granted (allowing the case to jump right to the Supreme Court) and the case was orally argued in front of the Court. The majority found the evidence against Tekoh admissible: that the deprivation of the Miranda Rights during an arrest is not a civil violation, the evidence was not self-incriminating, and stands strong from the original case. Essentially, S.C.O.T.U.S says if an officer fails to recite Miranda Rights, any evidence gathered can still be admitted/used in court and is not grounds for suing the officer.
Finally, it should be reiterated that under the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution, the concept of “Miranda Rights” still stand and will continue to be the foundation of the civil liberties retained by American citizens but they have come to be described more as a “warning” than a “right.” While cases like Vega v. Tekoh have caused slight ramifications in civil actions individual citizens can have against police officers, the Constitution continues to serve as a point of protection for the people.
Paralegals are specially trained legal professionals that, under the direct supervision of a lawyer, perform many of the same tasks that a lawyer can. GTCC’s Paralegal Club is where those in the Paralegal Technologies program can network, access professional development, and connect with the community around them. To find out more about the Paralegal Club, the Paralegal Technologies program, or to suggest future topics, please email program director Dr. Pamela Hollern (email@example.com).