If you are a suspect in criminal activity, a member of law enforcement is likely to want to hear your side of the story. Often, though, police interrogations are more about gathering evidence to use against you than seeking the truth. To protect your fundamental rights, officers must tell you about them.
Specifically, before interrogating you in a custodial setting, officers must inform you about your right to remain silent and your right to have legal counsel. They should also tell you about the possible consequences of talking to them. This is the Miranda advisement or warning.
You have no individual right to sue
Sadly, it is not uncommon for officers to violate the Miranda rights of criminal suspects and others. If officers fail to give you the Miranda advisement or mess it up in some meaningful way, you may wonder if you can hold them personally liable in civil court.
According to reporting from CNN, the U.S. Supreme Court recently answered that question with a resounding no. Therefore, you cannot sue a police officer for damages because he or she made mistakes with your Miranda advisement.
Miranda is not meaningless
The news is not all bad, fortunately. Even though you cannot go after an individual officer for violating your Miranda rights, you can ask a judge to throw out any evidence that comes from the officer’s actions. For example, if an officer does not give you the Miranda advisement, you may be able to exclude your confession using the fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine.
Ultimately, because excluding evidence under the fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine can be difficult, it is important to obtain legal counsel as early as possible.