Are police required to give a translator to someone who does not speak English when they are read their Miranda Rights? 36 Answers as of April 04, 2011

My cousin just moved to the US a few months ago and doesn't speak hardly any English. He was arrested for assault and battery because he got into a fight at a bar. The police claim they read him his Miranda Rights, but he did not understand them because he doesn't speak English. They then brought in a translator for him afterward so that they could do the interrogation. Is that legal? Or are police required to provide him with a translated version of the Miranda Rights (Spanish)?

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Law Office of Richard Williams
Law Office of Richard Williams | Richard Williams
If an arrested person is unable to understand their Miranda rights, due to speaking a different language or otherwise, then, in such event, any statement that they may have given the police may be suppressed. Please note that Miranda rights do not apply to a person being arrested but only as to whether a statement given by that person is or may be used against them in a court of law. Miranda rights are not mandatory just because you are being arrested.
Answer Applies to: Alabama
Replied: 4/4/2011
Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg
Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg | Eric Sterkenburg
For Miranda, a person has to knowingly wave the rights to do this the person needs to understand the Miranda rights. He cannot do that if told in a language he does not understand.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 4/4/2011
Berlin Law Firm, PLLC
Berlin Law Firm, PLLC | Lee F. Berlin
For his statements to be used later in court, the State must show that he knowingly and voluntarily waived his rights under Miranda. The determination of admissibility is made by the Judge following a *Jackson v. Denno* hearing.
Answer Applies to: Oklahoma
Replied: 4/1/2011
The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr. | Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
A waiver of your Miranda rights must be knowing and voluntary. If the officer does not speak your cousin's language, an interpreter is need to read the rights first.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 3/30/2011
The Law Office of Kevin O'Grady
The Law Office of Kevin O'Grady | Kevin O'Grady
Whether, when and how police are required to provide Miranda warnings is a very fact specific question that can be best answered by retaining an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as you can. An experienced defense attorney can leverage the facts for the client's benefit.
Answer Applies to: Hawaii
Replied: 3/30/2011
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser | Phillip L. Weiser
    In order for the Miranda Advisory to be valid as to a non-English speaking person, the person must be able to understand it. An interpreter would not only be advisable, but necessary. The fact that he was not able to understand the advisory, would possibly make any statement he gave questionable and potentially voidable.
    Answer Applies to: Kansas
    Replied: 3/30/2011
    Edward  D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law
    Edward D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law | Edward D. Dowling IV
    Generally, providing a translator is sufficient. He should hire an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 3/30/2011
    Bloom Legal, LLC
    Bloom Legal, LLC | Seth J. Bloom
    This is a matter of considerable legal controversy at present. There has not yet been a clear ruling from the Supreme Court on such a matter indicating the extent of the burden on law enforcement officers to make sure that suspects understand their Miranda Rights. This would largely be subject to specific state laws as well as the specific details of your cousin's case. It could possibly be used as a defense in such a matter but there is no hard and fast rule as it applies. If you or your cousin are seeking legal representation in this matter in Louisiana, we invite you to contact our firm at the information on this page for a free case evaluation to determine whether or not we might be able to assist you.
    Answer Applies to: Louisiana
    Replied: 3/30/2011
    Law Office of Tracey S. Sang
    Law Office of Tracey S. Sang | Tracey Sang
    Yes, they will provide the Miranda rights in the person's language before questioning. In the case of Spanish, this is usually not a problem.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/30/2011
    Theodore W. Robinson, P.C.
    Theodore W. Robinson, P.C. | Theodore W. Robinson
    Let's understand that the police may have given your cousin a gift by not reading him his "rights" in Spanish when they knew, or should have known, that he didn't speak English. Certainly they proved that they knew by getting an interpretor later, so that only verifies that he couldn't have understood his "rights" when given to him. Perhaps they had the interpretor read them to him again once he/she arrived to translate. I would expect so. However, if he/she did not read him his rights in Spanish, then anything he may have said later probably is attackable since he was never given his rights in Spanish. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 3/29/2011
    Law Offices of John Carney
    Law Offices of John Carney | John Carney
    They are not required to do so, but he statement could be challenged if the person does not speak much English. They usually provide a translator to give the Miranda warnings and take a statement unless it is an unusual language and there are no translators available.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 3/29/2011
    Michael Anthony Wing, P.C.
    Michael Anthony Wing, P.C. | Michael Anthony Wing
    While I don't have a case cite for you, it would stand to reason that the need for an interpreter for interrogation would illustrate the need to Mirandize the Defendant via the interpreter. Miranda would not invalidate the arrest, however, the statements collected in violation of Miranda could be suppressed. Have his attorney discuss that issue with him (in a language he can understand).
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 3/29/2011
    Andersen Law PLLC
    Andersen Law PLLC | Craig Andersen
    The prosecutor may not be able to use any of your cousin's statements after arrest before they read the rights in Spanish but that will depend on whether your cousin can convince a judge that he didn't understand the English rights. The only remedy for failure to read them in Spanish is his statements may be kept out of the trial but the state can still prosecute him based on witness testimony and other physical evidence.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 3/29/2011
    Austin Legal Services, PLC
    Austin Legal Services, PLC | Jared Austin
    You have to be able to understand and comprehend your rights before you can waive them. Usually police agencies will have you sign something to waive your Miranda Rights as evidence that you were read your rights, you understood them, and voluntarily waived them. If the suspect could not understand the language the officer was speaking, then he was in no position to waive them. Consult with an experienced criminal attorney who can look into your case in more detail and be able to provide a more accurate answer on steps you can take. Best of everything.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 3/29/2011
    Law Office of Cotter C. Conway
    Law Office of Cotter C. Conway | Cotter C. Conway
    If the police only read the Miranda right admonition in English and not in the native language of the accused, then any statements made during an interrogation should not be admissible at a trial. If an accused does not knowingly waive his right to remain silent (i.e. where he does not understand his rights because of a language barrier), then the use of his subsequent statements would be in violation of his constitutional rights. The police must have provided him with the admonition in his native language before proceeding with an interrogation. Contact me for a free consultation.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 3/30/2011
    Tracy L Henderson, Attorney at Law
    Tracy L Henderson, Attorney at Law | Tracy L. Henderson
    He should fight the case as any statement he made would be considered involuntary.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/30/2011
    Law Office of Jonathan T. Sarre
    Law Office of Jonathan T. Sarre | Jonathan T. Sarre
    In Oregon where I practice, law enforcement is required by statute to make an interpreter available to a person who does not readily speak or understand English. If they do not do that the statements will not be admissible against him in court. It is likely that when they did bring in the interpreter, they re-read him Miranda in Spanish. If he understood his rights in Spanish then anything he said at the station would be admissible but anything he said prior to the interpreter being present would not be admissible against him.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 3/30/2011
    Ron Graham Attorney at Law
    Ron Graham Attorney at Law | Ron Graham
    He has to understand his rights if he does not and confesses there might be a problem.
    Answer Applies to: Ohio
    Replied: 3/30/2011
    Goolsby Law Office
    Goolsby Law Office | Richard Goolsby
    You raise an interesting legal issue which you should discuss with your own criminal defense attorney. Discuss with your attorney the issue of whether or not Miranda and the Fifth Amendment require the police to utilize an interpreter to go over the person's rights and whether or not a valid waiver could ever be obtained in its absence. Good luck!
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 3/30/2011
    The Olsinski Law Firm, PLLC
    The Olsinski Law Firm, PLLC | Justin C. Olsinski
    This has been a discussion among defense attorneys throughout NC. It should be illegal in certain circumstances to not provide an adequate form of communication with Spanish speaking citizens. Unfortunately judges and the law currently do not see it that way most of the time. In your particular case it sounds like they gave him the rights in Spanish before interrogation so this, while not perfect, is better than some jurisdictions and would most likely fail on a challenge in court.
    Answer Applies to: North Carolina
    Replied: 3/30/2011
    The Law Offices of Jason Chan
    The Law Offices of Jason Chan | Jason Chan
    It depends on many factors. If the police gave him Miranda rights to read in Spanish it could be enough. In the end if his Miranda rights were violated it may lead to the suppression of statements. However, that doesn't mean the charges will be dismissed.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 3/30/2011
    Law Office of Martin Blank
    Law Office of Martin Blank | Martin E. Blank
    They would have had to give him a translated version of his right's under the circumstances you put forth.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 3/30/2011
    Law Office of Joe Dane
    Law Office of Joe Dane | Joe Dane
    In order for any statement to be admissible, a person that is in custody and being interrogated must be be given their Miranda rights. Not only that, but they must be given in a way that the suspect can understand the rights before they can waive them. This is something for your cousin's attorney to look at in detail.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/28/2011
    Law Office of Rankin Johnson IV, LLC
    Law Office of Rankin Johnson IV, LLC | Rankin Johnson IV
    They're supposed to provide an interpreter if he doesn't understand English. But there are a lot of shades of grey between speaking no English and speaking fluent English. Your cousin needs to talk to a lawyer about this problem.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 3/28/2011
    The Law Office of B. Elaine Jones
    The Law Office of B. Elaine Jones | B. Elaine Jones
    The police should have a translator read your cousin his rights in Spanish to make sure that he understood and should have kept the translator there for any other questioning to ensure that your cousin understands what is going on. Sounds like maybe your cousin has some rights to assert and maybe some statements or other evidence to exclude if he gets himself a good lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 3/28/2011
    Crippen & Cline, LC
    Crippen & Cline, LC | Stephen Howard
    Fifth Amendment and Miranda issues can be complex, and can depend on very specific factual details. What you have outlined here certainly raises some questions. But without seeing the full police reports, recordings of the interview/interrogation, etc., it is impossible to say whether police violated your cousin's rights. The purpose behind the Miranda warnings is to inform a suspect of his/her Constitutional rights before a police officer begins a custodial interrogation. If the suspect does not speak English, and therefore does not understand those warnings and rights, then the purpose behind the Miranda warnings has not been served. If your cousin does not have an attorney already, get one. If he cannot afford an attorney, there are some excellent public defenders working in the system. Either way, he should ask his attorney to look for potential Miranda violations.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 3/28/2011
    Desert Defenders
    Desert Defenders | John Jimenez
    They are not required to have an interpreter. But, they also may not be able to use his confession if his attorney can show it was not a free and voluntary statement.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/28/2011
    Edward A. Kroll, Attorney at Law
    Edward A. Kroll, Attorney at Law | Edward A. Kroll
    Miranda rights need to be understood. But failure to give proper Miranda rights doesn't mean that whole case against your cousin is thrown out - just any statements that he made will be thrown out. This is a tricky area of law, and I would strongly advise your cousin to get a good lawyer as soon as possible. I am a former prosecutor who has dealt with a lot of these kind of cases and would be happy to give you and your cousin a free consult to talk more about your options. But regardless of who you see, he needs a lawyer. Now.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 3/28/2011
    Ferguson & Ferguson
    Ferguson & Ferguson | Randy W. Ferguson
    They need to show he understood his rights. File a motion to suppress his statement.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 3/28/2011
    Law Offices of Carl Spector
    Law Offices of Carl Spector | Carl Spector
    In order for a statement given by a suspect to the police to be admitted into evidence against a person that is interrogated while in custody, the prosecutor would have to demonstrate to a judge that they read the suspect the Miranda Warnings and that the warnings were understood. Further, that the suspect waived their right to counsel and gave the statement voluntarily. Under the circumstances you describe it appears that the prosecutor will have a difficult time getting the statement admitted in evidence.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 3/28/2011
    Klisz Law Office, PLLC
    Klisz Law Office, PLLC | Timothy J. Klisz
    No, because they didn't take any statements from him if he wasn't speaking English and they didn't know Spanish. The rights only matter if you make incriminating statements without being told your rights and waiving them. Click on the link to your left to call me to discuss.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 3/28/2011
    Nelson & Lawless
    Nelson & Lawless | Terry Nelson
    Miranda rights warning is only required after arrest and before seeking confession. You have described no violation, if they provided a translator and Miranda translation upon request before that questioning.

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    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/28/2011
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