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Miranda Warnings: Public Safety Exception

A question we are frequently asked is whether criminal charges must be dismissed when someone is not given their Miranda warnings. Miranda warnings are only required when a person is taken into custody by law enforcement officials. Miranda warnings are only necessary when interrogation of a person in custody is commenced. If no statement is taken, then no Miranda warnings are required.

Since the Boston Marathon suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was arrested, there has been much discussion about the "public safety exception" to the Miranda rule. This allows police in certain limited cases to take statements without giving Miranda warnings. Police may always question somebody without giving them Miranda warnings.The repercussion to law enforcement is that the statement cannot be used in court against the person giving the statement. It is not clear whether or not the "public safety exception" would allow the prosecution to use a statement without the Miranda warnings. In the Boston Marathon case, it is doubtful that any statement would even need to be used given the huge amount of evidence which has already been compiled against Mr. Tsarnaev.

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