Native Language and Statements to Law Enforcement

A spotlight pointing at an empty chair in a dark interrogation room. Very detailed high resolution 3D render.

Statements individuals make to law enforcement officers are difficult to suppress and are often relied upon by prosecutors at trial. Additionally, tensions or stress levels may be running high when you are making a statement to a law enforcement officer. The courts have acknowledged that the atmosphere can feel coercive. It is often best to request a lawyer and refrain from making any further statement. When an attorney is requested, the interrogation should stop.

In New Jersey, your Miranda rights are usually explained both orally and in writing. There is usually a form that the individual is supposed to initial and sign, which states that the individual both understands and waives their Miranda rights. If you choose to give a statement, it should be video-recorded so that a trial court can see and hear what happened at the time. If an individual has limited English language skills, the Miranda rights and explanation should be done in both languages.


  • An individual was charged with sexually assaulting his granddaughter and a law enforcement officer transported him to a local police station for his statement.
  • The defendant let the officers know that he was more comfortable speaking Spanish
  • Prior to making his statement, a Spanish-speaking officer reviewed a Spanish language Miranda form with the defendant.
  • The officer read each Miranda right in Spanish and the defendant responded that he understood each right in Spanish. He then initialed and signed the form.
  • The defendant later moved to suppress his statement made to law enforcement
  • The officer testified at the hearing that the defendant appeared to have read the form, though he did not ask the defendant about his educational background or literacy level.
  • The trial court denied suppressing the statement.

NJ Supreme Court Ruling:

  • The Court found that the best practice would be for the officer to read the entire waiver paragraphs aloud, rather than just the specified Miranda rights.
  • It would also be acceptable for the defendant to read the form aloud to the officer.
  • If the form is not read aloud, the officer should ask the defendant about his educational background and literacy level.

If you have are facing criminal charges in NJ, the attorneys at the Law Office of Sara McArdle are here for you. Our attorneys are experienced former prosecutors and will be with you every step of the way. To schedule a consultation, call our office at 973-366-5244.

A spotlight pointing at an empty chair in a dark interrogation room. Very detailed high resolution 3D render.