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Miranda, Pirtle, and How They May Impact a Criminal Case

On Behalf of | Apr 20, 2020 | Firm News

As defense lawyers, we often receive questions about whether or when a criminal defendant should have been read his or her rights. More often than not, those questions are referring to Miranda rights:

“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.”

However, in Indiana, Pirtle rights also exist. This blog will provide an overview of these rights, when they apply, and how they may impact the outcome of a criminal case.

Most people are familiar with Miranda rights, at least to some extent. Generally, police must read Miranda warnings to an individual once that individual is (1) in custody and (2) subject to interrogation. That means that police only have to “Mirandize” a suspect if the suspect is in custody and the police want to question the suspect. “Custody” for purposes of this inquiry is determined by a “reasonable person” standard—if a “reasonable person” in the suspect’s position would not feel free to leave, then the law says that the suspect is/was in custody. The custody analysis is incredibly fact-sensitive and should be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Most often, Miranda issues that arise in a criminal case relate to statements or confessions that a criminal defendant is alleged to have made during the course of an investigation.

Importantly, suspects and criminal defendants in Indiana are also protected by a set of rights called Pirtle rights. Pirtle rights typically apply in situations where police want to search a suspect’s vehicle or home. Like Miranda rights, Pirtle rights attach or apply to persons in custody. However, Pirtle further entitles Hoosiers to the presence and advice of counsel prior to consenting to a search. That means that, in addition to reading Miranda rights to suspects in custody prior to interrogation, police also have to read Pirtle warnings to suspects in custody if they are seeking consent to a search of the suspect’s property. The Pirtle warnings must inform the person in custody as follows:

“You have the right to require that a search warrant be obtained before any search of your residence, vehicle or other premises. You have the right to refuse to consent to any such search. You have the right to consult with an attorney prior to giving consent to any such search. If you cannot afford an attorney, you have the right to have an attorney provided to you at no cost.”

There are, of course, exceptions to these general rules. For example, even if a suspect chooses to invoke his or her Miranda rights, he or she may still be required to answer questions seeking basic identifying information (i.e. name, date of birth, address). Suspects may also be patted down (i.e. searched) for weapons in the interest of officer safety. Both sets of rights may also be waived by suspects or defendants.
Finally, if a Court determines that the State obtained or derived certain evidence from a violation of either Miranda or Pirtle, the Court may suppress that evidence. If the Court suppresses evidence, the State cannot use that evidence at trial. And, if the State cannot use certain evidence at trial, the State may be left with no choice but to dismiss the criminal charges that it filed against a defendant.

The rights of the accused should be at the forefront of, and of the utmost importance to, any criminal justice proceeding. An experienced and dedicated defense attorney can help protect those rights. If you or a loved one are the subject of a criminal investigation or have been charged with a crime, contact us at any time via email at [email protected] or by phone at (812) 539-2111. Thank you.

Disclaimer: this post is made for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice. Please consult an attorney with questions regarding a specific case.