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Should Virginia police provide multilingual Miranda warning?

During an arrest, police officers in Virginia and throughout the country have certain obligations with regard to the rights of the accused. One of those obligations is to ensure that a person who is taken into custody is presented with his or her Miranda rights, which must be relayed by police to any suspect who is taken into custody, regardless of the supposed crime. When arresting police officers don't follow proper procedure, then the evidence they collect in an attempt to convict an accused person can be dismissed through a strong criminal defense.

Readers in Fairfax County will be interested to hear that a Virginia legislator recently introduced a bill that would have required Virginia police officers to convey the Miranda warning in the native language of the arrestee. However, the bill did not get past a General Assembly subcommittee.

Had the bill made its way into law, police officers might have been carrying cards with the Miranda warning printed on them in different languages. A number of ethnic communities in Virginia favored passing the bill, but the Vietnamese community in Falls Church perhaps had a special interest in seeing the new legislation. A number of Vietnamese people were reportedly arrested in an August raid, and the arrests were especially controversial since of the accused individuals couldn't understand what the police were saying, thus the arrestees were technically not made aware of their Miranda rights.

Even if the proposed Virginia bill wasn't passed into law, a 2007 Census Bureau report suggests that it probably should have been. According to the report, 55 million people in the U.S. spoke a language other than English in their own homes, and over 950,000 of those people lived in Virginia.

Regardless of their native language, residents in Fairfax County and throughout Virginia have rights that must be upheld if the rule of law is to be maintained. People who are accused of a crime deserve to know their rights, just as they deserve a fair trial and a strong criminal defense. When an individual's rights are violated by police, then an experienced criminal defense attorney will take the appropriate steps to have criminal charges significantly reduced or completely dismissed.

Source: Woodbridge Patch, "Subcommittee Snubs Multi-Language Miranda Bill," Andre L. Taylor, Feb. 1, 2012

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