What If The Police Didn’t Read Miranda Rights?
Interviewer: If someone comes to you and says, “Hey, I wasn’t read my Miranda rights,” does that mean the case is going to automatically be dismissed?
John Reade: A case usually is not dismissed due to an officer’s failure to read the person their Miranda rights. As far as Miranda rights you have to get answers to the following questions to determine if certain admissions, confessions, or statements may not be used against that person: (1) When was the officer suppose to read the person their Miranda rights? (2) Did the officer read the person their Miranda rights? (3) If the officer did not read the person their Miranda rights at the proper time, or at all, are certain admissions or statements not going to be admissible? and (4) If certain admissions or confessions can not be used against a person, does that mean that the prosecutor can not prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt?
Miranda rights basically say you have the right to remain silent and whatever you say can and will be used against you. If an officer was required to read a person their Miranda rights, and the officer failed to read the person their Miranda rights and the person makes an admission or confession then that admission or confession could potentially be suppressed or not used against that person.
Interviewer: If the case were to get dismissed, does it mean that it completely goes off your record, especially with a drug case?
John Reade: No. An arrest would still show up on your record if a charge(s) were dismissed, but you can get it expunged. If you get an arrest sealed then the hard copy file at the court is not accessible to anyone; and the record of that in the local computer system is taken out. The local computer system is called LEDS or the local law enforcement data system. In addition, the record of the arrest is also taken out of the federal computer system known as NCIC, or the National Crime Information Center.
If anyone ran your record after your arrest and/or conviction was expunged/sealed, then your arrest and/or conviction would not show up in the court, local computer data system, and federal computer data system.
Interviewer: What kind of drug convictions can be expunged/sealed and which ones can’t?
John Reade: Generally, a conviction for a Class C Felony can be expunged/sealed three years after a person is convicted or is off probation. In addition, three years after a conviction for possession of marijuana, even though it is a class B felony, you can get it sealed. The general rule is any conviction for a class C felony, or class B felony involving possession of marijuana, can be sealed. Convictions for all misdemeanors involving a drug charge could also be sealed. If your arrest and/or conviction is sealed then it would not show up in the local law enforcement data system and also would not show in the federal computer system. However, a class A felony or a conviction for manufacture of a controlled substance can not be sealed.
Interviewer: Now, let’s talk about first time offenders when it comes to drug cases. Do you think there’s any sort of leniency for first time offenders?
John Reade: There usually is leniency for a first time offender, particularly if there is no delivery or manufacture charge, there was only one drug involved, and there was no substantial quantity. The options that might be available to a first time offender are a conditional discharge, drug court, a reduction of a felony to a misdemeanor, or a felony being treated as a misdemeanor. First-time offenders have more options available to them than someone who is a repeat offender.
Interviewer: I see. Does that go the same way with harder drugs like cocaine or meth or heroin if it is a first-time offense? Is it still viewed as something that could be forgivable or just because it is cocaine or meth or heroin, is that automatically going to doom a person?
John Reade: It will not automatically doom a first time offender.