Las Vegas police must read Miranda warnings to suspects in "custodial interrogation." This is when the suspect is not free to leave (usually after an arrest), and the police are questioning the suspect.
What is the purpose of Miranda warnings?
Miranda warnings inform arrestees of their rights. Specifically, they have the right to not say anything. And they have the right to an attorney.
Miranda warnings also inform arrestees that they should be careful of what they say from now on. If they say anything, it can be used against them by prosecutors.
Being held and questioned by police is very traumatic. There is a massive power imbalance. And it is natural for a suspect to feel helpless and hopeless.
But Miranda warnings remind suspects that they do have power: They can remain silent, and they can have an attorney fighting for them. Suspects who have not been "Mirandized" may feel compelled to reveal incriminating details or even to confess.
What is the Miranda warning script Las Vegas police read?
“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you? With these rights in mind, do you wish to speak to me?”
When do police read Miranda warnings?
Police must Mirandize suspects before beginning "custodial interrogation." A suspect is in "custodial interrogation" when both:
- The suspect is not free to leave (usually after being arrested); and
- The police are questioning the suspect.
Therefore, police do not have to Mirandize suspects right after they get arrested as long as they do not question the suspects. (In movies, police are always reading Miranda warnings during the arrest. But this is not required unless the police are questioning the suspect.)
Conversely, police do not have to Mirandize suspects before questioning them if the suspect is free to leave. So if an officer goes up to someone on the street to ask questions, Miranda warnings are unnecessary. This is because the person can leave anytime.
What if police fail to read the Miranda warnings?
If police neglect to Mirandize suspects prior to custodial interrogation - and if the suspects are charged with a crime - suspects can ask the court to disregard anything they said during the interrogation. The legal term for this is filing a "motion to suppress evidence" with the court.
If the court grants the motion to suppress, the state's case could be severely weakened. Perhaps the D.A. would even have to dismiss the case for lack of proof.
Who was Miranda?
Ernesto Miranda was a defendant in an Arizona criminal case. During custodial interrogation, police failed to inform him of his rights to stay silent and have an attorney, and he confessed. The case eventually went to to the U.S. Supreme Court, which reversed his conviction because he was not read his rights. Since then, police are required to read "Miranda rights" to anyone being simultaneously questioned and detained.
Learn more in our article, What to do if you are arrested in Las Vegas.
Koger v. State, 117 Nev. 138, 141, 17 P.3d 428, 430 (2001).
State v. Taylor, 114 Nev. 1071, 1082, 968 P.2d 315, 323 (1998).