AR Court of Appeals - May 4, 2016

Cody W. Dowden, Attorney at Law

Matar v. State - Miranda warnings

This appeal actually had several points, but I'm only going to address the Miranda warning issue here. As most people know a Miranda warning is when the police advise a person of their constitutioal right to remain silent and not incriminate themselves (this comes from the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution).

However, what most people do not understand is that Miranda only applies to custodial interrogations. Necessarily, that means that the person must be BOTH in custody, which means a reasonable person would not feel free to leave, and being asked incriminating questions. If a person is free to leave and being asked incriminating questions, no Miranda warnings are required. Similarly, if a person is in custody ("cuffed and stuffed") but no incriminating questions are being asked, no Miranda warnings are required. Police are even allowed to ask non-incriminating questions, like name and date of birth, without reading any rights. Here, Matar was asked to come to the police station to talk about a child rape allegation. The officer told him he didn't have to come if he didn't want to, and that he was free to leave anytime. Matar came to the station and when asked incriminating questions about the allegation he gave incriminating answers (basically, a full confession). The court ruled that because he was not in custody at the time the questions were being asked, he was not entitled to have his Miranda rights read to him, and therefore his incriminating responses were not gathered unconstitutionally, and therefore could be used against him.

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