You’ve likely seen a movie or television program with a police officer speaking the infamous line, “You have the right to remain silent…….” What is the purpose of the warning? Does it matter? Your Miranda rights are among the most important rights provided to all citizens. So important, they’re included in the U.S. Constitution and have been the subject of several rulings by the Supreme Court.
Miranda rights were created in 1966 and provide a means of protecting a suspect’s right to refuse to provide self-incriminating statements to the police. The 5th Amendment relates to self-incrimination. The 6th Amendment guarantees the right to counsel. The Miranda warning serves to provide notice of these rights.
Miranda rights only apply after an arrest. Prior to an actual arrest, the police are not required to provide a Miranda warning. Remember that prior to an arrest, you do not have to speak to the police. You are also free to go at any time in most instances.
There are 4 primary components to any Miranda warning:
- The right to remain silent.
- Anything said by the suspect may be used against them.
- The right to speak to an attorney before questioning and the right to have an attorney present during questioning.
- An attorney will be provided if the suspect cannot afford one.
There are rights that the police are not required to divulge.
The Supreme Court has decided that there are additional rights available to suspects, but the police are not required to reveal as part of the Miranda warning.
- The suspect can stop the interrogation at any time. Stopping the interrogation cannot be used against the suspect.
- The suspect can request an attorney at any time during an interrogation.
The suspect must waive their rights before the police can proceed with questioning.
The courts have decided that merely informing the suspect of his or her rights isn’t sufficient. The police are required to ask whether the suspect understands their rights and whether they are willing to waive these rights and talk to police.
This waiver must be voluntary.
Miranda rules are quite complex as they relate to the use of testimonial evidence. As with most legal matters, the use of a qualified attorney is a wise decision. If you’ve been given a right, it’s generally a good idea to make full use of it. Do not waive your Miranda rights. In most cases, the less said to the police, the better.
Many intelligent people erroneously believe they are capable of dealing with police questioning on their own. However, there are many pitfalls to this approach. Not least of which is the fact that the police engage in interrogation activities all day, every day. Experience is important.
Your attorney is the best person to speak to the police on your behalf. There are many instances of seemingly harmless information being used successfully in court to obtain a conviction. Allow your attorney to provide expert legal assistance.