Miranda Warnings: Broken Down
Miranda warnings are required when a suspect is:
- in custody and
- subject to interrogation.
"Custody" is any situation in which the suspect is under formal arrest or his/her freedom of movement has been restricted
"Subject To Interrogation" is when a suspect is subjected to questions of their functional equivalent.
A suspects' responses to routine questions such as name, social security number, age or routine booking questions are not subject to Miranda warnings.
Miranda warnings are not required in situations involving an immediate risk of danger to the public.
Miranda warnings do not protect a suspect from spontaneous statements or admissions to the police.
In summary: Miranda warnings are required when someone is under formal arrest or has been detained by the police in order for any answers, other than those to routine questions, to be admissible in court.
KNOW YOUR COURTS
The structure of the South Carolina judicial system is laid out in Article V of the state Constitution. The state court system is made up of the South Carolina Supreme Court, the South Carolina Court of Appeals, the South Carolina Circuit Courts, the South Carolina Probate Courts, the South Carolina Masters-in-Equity, the South Carolina Family Courts, the South Carolina Magistrate Courts, and the South Carolina Municipal Courts.
Most criminal and civil actions are heard either in Circuit Court or Magistrate Court. The Circuit Court is the state's court of general jurisdiction. It is divided into a civil court, the Court of Common Pleas and a criminal court, the Court of General Sessions. The Magistrate Courts in South Carolina that have jurisdiction over cases involving offenses with a fine not exceeding $500 or imprisonment not exceeding 30 days.
The federal court system is made up of the District Court of South Carolina and the District Court of South Carolina Bankruptcy Court. Appeals go to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, which includes South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland. Appeals from there are heard in the Supreme Court of the United States.
Attorneys must be admitted to practice in these courts and many attorneys only practice in a select few. Frank Cornely is admitted to practice in all Municipal and Magistrate's Courts throughout South Carolina, all Circuit Courts in the 16 different judicial circuits throughout South Carolina, the South Carolina Court of Appeals, and the South Carolina Supreme Court. Frank is also admitted to practice in all Federal District Courts throughout South Carolina, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court of the United States.
TEXTING & DRIVING
In 2011 at least 23% of auto collisions involved cell phones. Texting and driving is quickly becoming the major threat to motor vehicle safety. Studies show that texting slows brake reaction speed by 18%. You’re actually six times more likely to cause an accident while texting than by being intoxicated. Texting while driving has been outlawed or is soon to be outlawed for all drivers in many states. South Carolina currently has no state-wide restriction on texting while driving, however many local jurisdictions have passed their own ordinances. For example, in the city of Charleston, a driver cannot participate in viewing, taking, or transmitting images, playing games, or composing, sending, reading, accessing, browsing, transmitting, saving or retrieving email, text messages, or other electronic data. A violation of the ordinance can lead to a $100 fine, plus court costs, and the police can subpoena a device's use records if necessary to make a case. The same is true in Mount Pleasant, where violators will be subject to a $50 fine. If a traffic accident is involved, a driver could face an additional fine of up to $200. Be aware of your local laws and the dangers of texting and driving.
Boating Under the Influence
Did you know:
1) A boat operator is likely to become impaired more quickly than a driver of a motor vehicle, drink for drink?
2) The use of alcohol is involved in about one third of all recreational boating fatalities?
It is illegal to operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs in every state. The Coast Guard also enforces a federal law that prohibits boating while under the influence (BUI). This law pertains to all boats - from canoes and rowboats to the largest ships. Violation of these rules can lead to fines, jail time, alcohol education programs, and suspension of your boating license.
In South Carolina, if a person is under the influence of alcohol or drugs while operating a water device, he or she is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon their first conviction, must be punished by a fine or imprisonment for not less than forty-eight hours or more than thirty days. These penalties escalate with every subsequent conviction. If a person who, while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or the combination of alcohol and drugs operates a moving water device within this State and causes great bodily injury or death of a person, he or she is guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, could face fines up to ten thousand dollars and up to twenty-five years of prison.
Your boat is a vehicle. Safe operation is a legal and personal responsibility, so avoid intoxication and be careful.
There are many collateral consequences that result from a criminal conviction which most people are not aware of. In addition to jail time and monetary penalties there are additional consequences including:
- Loss of drivers license or driving privileges;
- Loss or restriction of a professional license;
- Ineligibility for public funds including welfare benefits, public scholarships, and student loans;
- Loss of voting rights;
- Ineligibility for jury duty;
- Travel restrictions;
- And much more…
For example, here in South Carolina, to be eligible for a Life, Hope, or Palmetto Fellows Scholarship, students must certify that they have never been adjudicated delinquent, convicted, pled guilty or nolo contendere to any felonies or any second or subsequent alcohol/drug related offenses under the laws of this or any other state or under the laws of the United States.
There are many consequences that are associated with most criminal convictions; therefore it is always best to consult with your lawyer in order to better protect your future.
WHAT ARE THEY & WHAT DO THEY MEAN
“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you?”
Most Americans are familiar with this language because of popular movies or television shows but most people lack a basic understanding of Miranda Warnings.
On June 13, 1966, the outcome of Miranda v. Arizona provided that suspects must be informed of their specific legal rights when they are placed under arrest. This decision was based on a case in which Ernesto Miranda was accused of multiple violent crimes and confessed to these crimes during police interrogation. The Supreme Court held that law enforcement officials must advise a suspect interrogated in custody of his or her rights to remain silent and to obtain an attorney.
It is critical to understand that this warning should be read after an arrest has been made and before police questioning is conducted. Miranda Warnings are simply intended to inform you of your rights regarding police questioning. The warning does not have to be read to you if you are not placed under arrest. Therefore, if you do answer questions before being arrested, your statements may be used as evidence at trial.
If the officer does conduct pre-arrest questioning and feels that you are beginning to make self-incriminating statements, he may read the Miranda Warning in order to ensure that the statements may be used in court. South Carolina has specifically held that a suspect in custody must be warned prior to any questioning that "he has the right to remain silent, that anything he says can be used against him in a court of law, that he has the right to the presence of an attorney, and that if he cannot afford an attorney one will be appointed for him prior to any questioning if he so desires." The right to terminate an interrogation arises after these warnings are given. "Once warnings have been given, the subsequent procedure is clear. If the individual indicates in any manner, at any time prior to or during questioning, that he wishes to remain silent, the interrogation must cease." Therefore, you have the right to refuse questioning but you must exercise this right.
Welcome to the Learn About Law articles from Cornely Law. Check back frequently for useful information and tidbits from Frank Cornely as he elucidates the complex field of law.