Saturday, December 26, 2009

Miranda Warnings: Hollywood Vs. Real World

How many times have we all seen a television show or movie that depicts an arrest and while in the process the LEO'S give Miranda Warnings to the suspect? How many of us actually do that? As a member of a patrol division or a detective squad I submit that doing that too soon can be just as bad as not doing it at all.
The truth is if you're a patrol cop and you make an arrest, there is a chance you may want to question your arrestee. If you were to administer Miranda as you are arresting your suspect like they do on television, you may very well be shutting your bad guy (or girl)down before you need to. The ride "back to the house" can be very productive depending on circumstances. If it's a job that you will handle all the way through, you are going to want to talk to your subject right? Why then would you want to lose the opportunity to gather spontaneously uttered information? Those comments and statements made from the rear of your patrol vehicle by your subject will certainly be called into question if you gave Miranda prior to them being made. I have seen too many times LEO's in the real world doing their job as if they were trained by cops on different TV shows...sad but true. We are human and absent a good training officer and /or mentor people (yes even Police Officers) will act based on what they are exposed to.
Being a detective for many years it is one aspect of TV and movies that I cannot deal with. Why would a producer/director of a movie or series show take the time to hire real LEO's (retired or active) as consultants and then throw in the mistake of advising Miranda as the arrest is taking place? Because that is what people have seemingly come to expect. The same reason all the CSI issues are now so's been shown in the movies and on TV so much, real jurors expect DNA, fingerprint evidence and other aspects of crime scene investigation to be present in a case before they will convict (but that's yet another post).
It is not necessary to advise an arrested person of their right to remain silent UNLESS they are going to be questioned! Yes they have been arrested, yes you will want to question them. Think about this...
don't do it on the street to "get it out of the way", or to make sure you won't forget. Give them the opportunity to "vent" all the way back to the station. Then, during your "pre-interview chat" let them know their rights prior to getting into your subject matter.
I realize we all have or own style of working and we all do what we have found works best for"us"....but let's keep our edge and don't give away the game before you get started.