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Are statements made before your Miranda Rights are read admissable in court as evidence?

Dallas, TX |

In a DWI case, if you refuse the FST and are arrested, are the statements made after the arrest and before the Miranda Rights are read admissable in court?

Attorney Answers 5


I understand your fact pattern to be that an arrest was made first, then oral statements were made after arrest. If I understand your question and facts, correctly, the odds are that the statements are not admissible if the statements were made as part of INTERROGATION, because of Tex. Code Crim. Pro. Art. 38.22, Section 3, which provides that the oral statements must be recorded either by audio or video tape, that the recording show that the suspect waived his Miranda rights, that all voices on the tape are identified, and that a copy of the recording is provided to the accused.

If the statements are not the result of interrogation, then you would be dealing with another matter. What is considered interrogation is hard to define. Some years ago, the courts often said anything police said that was intended to elicit a response was interrogation. In recent years, the courts have given widely diverging opinions on what is in response to interrogation and have made it easier for the prosecutors to get statements into evidence that is not the result of interrogation.

Regardless of whether the statement was admissible by the State in the presentation of its case; should you choose to testify and testify contrary to what you stated out of court, the State could use your prior statement to impeach you.

One last caveat: as a general rule, statements must be made voluntarily, regardless whether 38.22 applies. You cannot be threatened to give a false confession.

This is something that should be carefully explored with an attorney.

No lawyer can predict a result or guarantee a result.

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From what you described, they are admissible in court, however, each case has unique and different fact pattern. At times, criminal defense attorneys after analyzing how the statements were procured file a Motion to Suppress Statements if they were obtained in violation.
However, to determine whether your statements qualify for a suppression motion on merits, you have to discuss the specific events in confidence with a criminal defense attorney in Dallas, Texas.

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If only that could be answered with a simple yes or no. Realistically, if you need to know the answer to that, you're going to need to have an attorney handle your case (which you should anyway), and the court may need to hold a hearing to address the very question. The admissibility depends on a number of things, such as whether the statements we're made in response to an officer's interrogation or were just something that popped out of your mouth of their own volition. Intoxicated people tend to like to talk a lot sometimes, and I remember a case I handled as a prosecutor where this guy was I believe on his ninth or tenth DWI, and after getting arrested, basically convicted himself with the statements he made babbling away while in the back seat of the patrol car. Some of that time, the officer wasn't even in the car with him--it's pretty hard to keep that kind of thing out of evidence. Other times, it may not be so clear which way it's going to turn out if a judge ends up deciding the issue, but regardless, an attorney who's actually looked at the evidence in your case will have a better idea of how it's all likely to go and should be able to help you figure out the best course of action based on that knowledge.

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Mostly likely, the answer is yes. DWI is different than most crimes in regard to the reading of Miranda Rights. Typically, Miranda Rights do not have to be read to a person in a DWI case until after the SFSTs are administered, the person is handcuffed and transported to a police station, and AFTER a person gives or refuses to give a breath or a blood test.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has laid out different Miranda rules for DWI because of what they rule as "testimonial" versus "non-testimonial" evidence.

That being said, an officer may cross the legal line during questioning that may trigger Miranda Rights. You need a skilled, experienced DWI attorney to review your case and video and determine what, if any statements can be suppressed.

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There is a saying that "timing is everything" and that certainly is the case here. If the statements were made spontaneously, that is not the product of a question from the officer, they're admissible regardless of when they occurred. If the statements were the response to questions BEFORE being taken into custody, they might be admissible. If they were in response to questions AFTER being taken into custody, but before Miranda, that is likely a big issue. Miranda only applies to "custodial interrogation." That is statements made in response to questions after being taken into custody. Spontaneous statements, that is the defendant just blurting things out, are not subject to Miranda and can, at times, have a devestating effect on the case.

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