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TJ, Esq.
TJ, Esq., Attorney
Category: Criminal Law
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Experience:  Licensed to Practice Law
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I was arrested for public urination but never read my Miranda

Customer Question

I was arrested for public urination but never read my Miranda Rights. The police officer did not see or hear me urinate. When I walked away from the building, the police officer asked me "why were you urinating?" I said "sorry." The police officer used this apology as an admittance of guilt. I know I do not have to be read my Miranda rights until in custody, but I feel that I was in custody immediately since the officer phrased the question in a coercive way and made it seem like he saw me even though he did not. Please give me your opinion on this matter. Also, the police officer is an attorney, but never told me this - is there any case law on such a situation? Once in the police car the officer told me I didn't have a "good lookout as a friend," then told me "to smile for him." He was trying to provoke me, but I cooperated. Also, before arresting me, the officer asked what he thought I should do, I asked to be given a warning since I am an education major and worried how this misdemeanor may affect my future. The officer arrested me anyway and said he had to because I was out of state (this occurred in MI and I am from OH). I know this is not true now. Thank you for your help in this matter.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  TJ, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Hello and thank you for allowing me the opportunity to assist you.

Q: I know I do not have to be read my Miranda rights until in custody, but I feel that I was in custody immediately since the officer phrased the question in a coercive way and made it seem like he saw me even though he did not. Please give me your opinion on this matter.
A: I'm sorry to say that is not quite true. The police never have to read you the Miranda rights unless you are in custody and being interrogated. I think that you'll have a very difficult time convincing a judge that you were in custody the moment the question was asked. But how could he have put you in custody if he had no probable cause at that point? He wouldn't have probable cause until after you responded and made the admission. Unfortunately, I don't think that a judge would see it your way. I'm truly sorry.

Q: Also, the police officer is an attorney, but never told me this - is there any case law on such a situation?
A: That's irrelevant and shouldn't be a factor in what occurred. He was acting as a police officer, not as anybody's attorney.

Q: The officer arrested me anyway and said he had to because I was out of state (this occurred in MI and I am from OH). I know this is not true now.
A: The officer certainly has discretion as to whether he arrests you or lets you go. But the fact that he lied and said that he had to arrest you won't help. He had the right to arrest you, and so the arrest was lawful even if he pretended that he had no choice.

The botXXXXX XXXXXne is that I think you have an uphill battle in this situation. Your best argument will probably be that your apology was not an admission and was just something to say because you felt intimidated. I don't think you will be able to win the Miranda argument that you made.

I am truly sorry to give you this bad news, but please understand that it would be unfair to you (and unprofessional of me) to provide you with anything less than an honest response. However, if your concerns were not satisfactorily addressed, then please let me know, and I will be happy to clarify my answer. I do ask that you rate me based upon whether I answered your question, and not based upon whether the answer was good news or bad news. Your positive feedback is greatly appreciated. Thank you for using our service!

If you would like to direct additional legal questions to me in the future, then please type "To VAMD" in the subject line of your question.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

I am not making a Miranda argument, I am just trying to better understand it. Is there case law on when custody occurs for the phrasing of a question? My concern is that he did not have probable cause but coerced an answer thus creating probable cause. I do not think he knew I was urinating but just fishing for an excuse to arrest me. I am not familiar with Miranda, but did read it is in place to prevent coercion. Is there any Michigan case law that states a police officer my word a question such as the one did in this situation - accusing me of a crime when he didn't know if I committed it? I was also very interested in case law regarding police officers who are also attorneys. My point being that although he is a police officer, he knew how to word questions, etc. I am interested to see if any cases have been brought regarding this situation (even if they were fruitless). Had I know the officer was also a lawyer, I would not have said a word. Thanks.

 

Are police officers allowed to come out and say why have you been doing x, crime? Has that been shown to be a violation of miranda if it has not been given? Has that been shown to be "in custody" type of situation? Sorry for all of the questions, I just feel that you did not understand my question fully. Thanks.

Expert:  TJ, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Hi again.

There is plenty of case law on what constitutes custody. The Supreme Court of the United States has made several rulings on the issue. A person is in custody when a reasonable person would believe that he is not free to leave. See Michigan v. Chesternut, 486 U.S. 567 (1988). However, this requires a physical application of force by the officer or a submission to the officer's show of force. It is not enough that the officer merely ordered the person to stop. See California v. Hodari D., 499 U.S. 621 (1991).

Based on what you wrote, it does not sound like you were in custody. Merely asking a question designed to get you to admit to a crime would not constitute putting you into custody. Moreover, a police officer is allowed to investigate a potential crime and to ask question designed to elicit information about a potential crime. See Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968).

I have never heard of any cases regarding police officers who are attorneys. The fact that the police officer is also an attorney does not impact what occurred. He did not owe you any additional duties, nor was he required to take any additional precautions in his investigation or questioning. To be honest, I don't believe that attorneys know how to word questions any better than police officers. Police officers are trained to ask questions that will elicit incriminating responses. Attorneys are not trained to do that. Attorneys are trained to argue. Accordingly, I doubt his status as an attorney had any impact on the way the police officer conducted himself, and I do not believe that his status as an attorney will help your case. A search for applicable case law revealed nothing helpful.. I wish that I had better news.

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