Police Interrogation: Miranda Warnings in Pennsylvania
Far too often our clients have given statements because they thought the police were immediately required to read them their rights. These clients incorrectly assumed that any answers given would be inadmissible in court. However, the rules regarding Miranda warnings only apply to defendants who are the subject of "custodial interrogation." Thus, during preliminary questioning and routine booking questioning, the police are under no obligation to read you your rights. Furthermore, any voluntary answers given can be considered admissible under most circumstances.
Moreover, the police are required to cease all questioning of a potential defendant once he or she asks for an attorney, regardless of whether your were given a Miranda warning. Do not be afraid to ask for an attorney during questioning. The fact that you've asked for an attorney cannot be used against you in court.
Before answering any police questions, ask yourself how familiar you are with the details of any law you could have possibly broken. Although rare, our office has handled cases for clients who, when answering seemingly harmless questions, implicated themselves in another, non-related matter. We have also seen people answer questions because they were unaware that they were breaking the law, thus implicating themselves in the act unknowingly! You may be asking yourself if it is legal for the police to use answers to questions from one incident as evidence in another incident. The answer is yes. The simple fact that you have chosen to voluntarily provide the information to the police, allows them to use it against you.
For this reason, we must reiterate: Do not be afraid to ask for an attorney during questioning. The fact that you've asked for an attorney cannot be used against you in court.