Knowing Your Miranda Rights and When They Apply
By: Devon Jones
What are my Miranda Rights?
• The Fifth Amendment protects a person against being compelled to testify against themselves in a criminal case. The U.S. Supreme Court relied on this, along with the Sixth Amendment’s right to an attorney, in its landmark Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, decision. As a result, the following warnings and accompanying rights were set forth:
1. You have the right to remain silent;
2. Anything you say can be used against you in a court of law;
3. You have the right to consult with a lawyer and have that lawyer present during the interrogation;
4. If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be appointed to represent you;
5. You can invoke your right to be silent before or during an interrogation, and if you do so, the interrogation must stop.
When do Miranda Rights apply?
• Before a police officer is required to read or issue Miranda rights, a suspect must first be in police custody or under interrogation. It’s important to understand these requirements when interacting with police because if you aren’t formally in police custody, and you aren’t being interrogated, the police are not required to read you a Miranda warning. As a result, the police can use anything you say against you as evidence of wrongdoing.
What if the police fail to advise me of my Miranda Rights?
• When police officers question a suspect in custody without first issuing the Miranda warning, any statement or confession made is presumed to be involuntary and cannot be used against the suspect in any criminal case brought before the court. In addition, a skilled attorney will work to have any evidence discovered as a result of that statement or confession suppressed, meaning it will be inadmissible at any subsequent trial.
What should I do if the police attempt to interrogate me?
• Remain calm and always be polite. Do not argue with the police officers and never, ever resist. Provide them with your name and identification but nothing more. Unambiguously exercise your right to remain silent. Simply let the officers know will not be answering any of their questions without your lawyer present.