The Miranda Hiccup

I’ve been thinking about a particular situation that might arise as a result of police negligence and, as you might expect, it’s at once a sad and funny thing to think about.

As most of us know, since 1966 it’s been absolutely necessary that police read the Miranda rights to anyone they’re arresting, informing people of their Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination and their right to an attorney. But what happens if they, say, just plain forget?

Well, if police arrest Gus and then go ahead and question him about the murder of Ralph without reading him his rights, then anything Gus says to the cops is probably going to be considered involuntary, forced, and thus unlawful. Which probably means that even if Gus admits that he murdered Ralph and, furthermore, reveals where he hid Ralph’s body, neither Gus’ confession nor the very fact that Gus knew exactly where Ralph’s body was lying can be used against him in his trial: the evidence was unlawfully obtained.

So where does that leave the prosecution (not to mention Ralph’s friends and family)? What if Gus was so clever that he really left no evidence behind that could link him to Ralph’s murder, and his confession was the only thing linking him to the murder? Would he be found “not guilty”?

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