Can You Be Too High to Understand Your Miranda Rights?

John L. Calcagni III
miranda rights

The man is charged with the murder of an eighteen-year-old, from March of 2015. He claims that he was also under the influence of alcohol at the time, which means that he wasn’t in possession of all of his faculties. He claims that he was smoking marijuana, and under the influence of PCP as well as alcohol. This affected his ability to understand both, that he was committing murder and his Miranda rights.

In support of his claim, he offers that he get extremely paranoid and makes a distinct sound when too high to concentrate or comprehend. Allegedly, while police were questioning him, he made this sound. When asked why he signed the waiver of his rights if he didn’t understand, he said that he wanted to know what police were talking about and they claimed not to be able to discuss it with him until they had his signature.

What Are Your Miranda Rights?

The language given when you are being read your rights is “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have a right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, the state will provide one for you.” While they don’t have to be exact and they are required before an arrest, they do not have to be any specific iteration. They only need to convey the message. And that message is clear and concise. You can keep quiet until you have an attorney present. This is to prevent you from incriminating yourself or saying something that you don’t understand completely. This is because anything you say after read your rights is admissible in court, in your prosecution. You do have to be made aware of these rights before an interrogation, though there are rare exceptions to the rule.

Do They Always Apply?

For Miranda Rights to apply, there are six requirements:

  1. There must be evidence. Remaining silent is the best way to avoid providing the police with evidence.
  2. The evidence must be testimonial. Your Miranda Rights or even the Fifth Amendment do not cover any evidence that you give in the form of a DNA or handwriting (hair, dental, etc.) sample. In general, you must speak these statements out loud. However, the Fifth Amendment also covers certain telling gestures.
  3. That evidence has to have been obtained while in the custody of the police. Establishing this is when the suspect submits to the control of the police in restraint, whether by force or voluntarily, or the officer outright states that they are arresting the suspect.
  4. The police must have obtained the evidence during interrogation. Interrogation is express questioning likely to elicit an incriminating response. So, your Miranda Rights do not cover any incriminating response you give during a sobriety test.
  5. State-agents must be conducting the interrogation. Knowing that the person conducting the interview is a police officer is enough to meet the requirements. However, it is not if they are an undercover officer or a private citizen. There is some debate of security guards who are also police officers.
  6. The state must offer the evidence during a criminal proceeding. The exclusionary rule of the Fifth Amendment applies to criminal prosecution. The court will have to determine the nature of the trial, based on the nature of the sanctions imposed.

Understanding Your Miranda Rights

Evidence that the police obtain during an investigation requires that you understand your Miranda rights before you speak to police. The fifth and sixth amendments provide your right to remain silent and your right to representation by legal counsel. If all six of the requirements are met, the evidence hangs on whether the rights were expressed and whether or not the waiver of these rights was signed. You must sign the waiver voluntarily and without coercion. The accused can use state constitutions and criminal procedure statues to fight the credibility of the statement.
To read more about the case, you can start here.

If you find yourself in a situation where you aren’t sure of your rights, or you think the police are violating them, you will need a good attorney on your side. Experience in court procedures and the fifth amendment are crucial in these times and can be the difference between winning and losing a case. It isn’t a chance you want to take. This is a good place to start your research. Take the time to tell every detail you can remember of your story. You never know what can help your case and you want your lawyer to know anything that could hurt it. This is a good time for you to ask any questions you may have about your Miranda rights. You want to make sure you understand them.