How exact does the Miranda warning have to be?

On August 30, 2019 the Sixth Circuit answered that question in United States v. Clayton.  Here is the warning that was given to the defendant:

Before we ask you any questions, you must understand your rights.  You have the right to remain silent.   Anything you say can and will be used against you in court. You have the right to talk to a lawyer before we ask you any questions. If you cannot afford to have a lawyer, one will be appointed for you before any questioning if you wish. Do you understand your rights?

Missing from the warning was the notice that a lawyer could be present during the questioning. But the court held that message was still conveyed to Clayton. In being informed of his right to counsel, Clayton was told that the right begins at the outset, before any questioning. That and the fact that “[n]othing in the words used indicated that counsel’s presence would be restricted [during] questioning,” undermine Clayton’s argument (citing the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Florida v. Powell, 559 U.S. 50, 63 (2010))

LEO Takeaway:  No matter how many times you’ve given the Miranda warnings before, stick to the Miranda Card! While the warning doesn’t have to be an exact set of words, it must fully convey the meaning in order to be effective.

To read or download the full decision CLICK HERE