Misunderstanding Miranda: Why The Boston Bombing Case Won’t Be Compromised By Miranda Warnings

Posted: April 23, 2013 in Criminal Law
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With all the talk about whether the surviving Boston bombing suspect should receive Miranda warnings prior to questioning, our political leaders and the media have obscured what the Miranda case requires, what it does, and its effect on police investigation.  My article “Misunderstanding Miranda,” in today’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, clears away the unfortunate fog.  Here’s a sample:

Just hours after the second Boston bomber was taken alive, the government announced that it would not give the man Miranda warnings before questioning him. Instead, the Department of Justice said, the attacker would be questioned without warnings under the public safety exception…

Let’s start with a clear understanding of the Miranda warnings. Failing to give Miranda warnings does not interfere with the power of the police to make an arrest. Not giving the warnings does not affect the ability of the prosecution to try a suspect. In fact, not reading a suspect his Miranda warnings does not even violate the person’s rights.

There’s a lot of misunderstanding of Miranda out there, and the public discussion over the last few days has made it worse.  It’s important to know that our police officers and security personell will not be slowed down by Miranda warnings.  The article will tell you why.




  1. Ron Joy says:

    From what I read in an online article yesterday, the suspect while being questioned by the federal authorities, was read his constitutional rights just before being questioned and still he insisted on telling why he participated in the bombing at the Boston marathon. From what I understand through the law statutes, they should not be informed of their constitutional rights until the questioning begins. They way they have the option of putting the questioning on hold until their attorney arrives, or they may continue with the questioning.

    • Ron, I’m not sure this is correct. The report I have heard most recently indicates that the authorities first questioned him without Miranda warnings to ascertain whether there was any further danger — more bombs, other attacks planned, etc. He said no (confirming what all the other evidence law enforcement already had indicated). This was done under the public safety exception. Then they did advise him of his rights under Miranda. Any other questioning beyond the initial public safety exception came after he was advised.

  2. David Striegel says:

    The article should clarify many of the misundertandings about Miranda.

    • Thanks, David. I hope you’re right. I have asked several people — bright, thinking people, as far as I can tell — what will happen to the hospitalized bomber if he wasn’t advised of his rights. The answer from all of them: “some court will let him off on a technicality when he appeals his guilt.” That is the kind of thing that got me to right this article.

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