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Do police have to read me my miranda rights if the ask me how old I am and how much alcohol i've drank>

Oxford, PA |

I was at a party last night and the police broke it up after someone called them becasue the radio was loud. They grabbed me and two buddies. Eveyone else ran away. They made us sit down at a table in the yard while they spoke to us. My buddies had IDs which showed they were only 20. I didnt have any ID but when they asked I told them I was 20. They asked how much beer we drank and we told them 2 or 3 thats was all. After about 20 minutes the cops told us that you have to be 21 to drink in PA and to expect citations in the mail. Then they let us go. Later on they called my mom and dad and told them what happened and that I was being cited. I guess I want to know since I was never in cuffs or brought to the station did the cops have to read me miranda when asking my age or if I drank?

I did ask the cops why they needed my information and they told me that it was because they were called to investigate a loud party and my information was needed for their report. They said they smelled alcohol on our person before they asked how old we were and how much we drank. They never said I could leave but I never asked or tried. Could I have just refused to speak to them and walk away? I'm not sure if I was actually arrested to just detained and if not arrest do they have to read me miranda? I am a college student, this was a college party. I just dont want to tarnish my furture if this can be beat.

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Attorney answers 4


The police should have read you your Miranda rights if you were in custody. That does not require that you be in cuffs or at the station. It does require a set of circumstances that would convince a reasonable person that they were not free to leave. That is an issue that could be explored by an attorney on a motion to suppress your statement in the event you are cited. Being at the picnic table with your buddies tends to make the situation less "police dominated." However, whether you were in custody depends on all the circumstances at the time.

This answer is provided for educational purposes only and is not intended as the practice of law in any jurisdiction in which I am not licensed. The answer does not constitute legal advice nor does it create an attorney-client relationship. The answer is based only on the information provided, and may be inaccurate in the context of additional facts that have not been provided. The questioner should be aware that I am only licensed to practice law in the state and federal courts of Minnesota. Accordingly, before taking any action or refraining from taking any action, the questioner should consult with an attorney licensed to practice in his or her jurisdiction.


The law pretends that people are free to disobey police questioning and walk away. The issue is whether you were in custody at the time of the questioning. That is for a judge. A person cannot give false information to the police, but unless they are driving a vehicle that has been stopped for a ticket, there is no requirement to provide any information to the police.

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You were in custody - no reasonable person would have felt free to walk away. The cops "needed" your information because they "needed" to find someone to charge with a crime. You should contact a criminal defense attorney, who can work to reduce the damage to your future. Money well spent. Some sort of reduction sounds reasonable.

We do not have a client/attorney relationship until you make an appointment, we discuss your case face to face, I accept a retainer, and we explictly agree to enter into representation.


It sounds like you will get a citation for underage drinking. This is considered a criminal matter, and is accompanied by a driver license suspension. You should consult a lawyer before doing anything. I'm located in Chester County, and I'm familiar with criminal law and license suspensions. Feel free to call my office for a consultation: 610-280-7078.

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