You’ve heard the Miranda Rights over and over during every arrest scene on cop shows and in movies. But what do the Miranda Rights really mean – and how do they help protect you?
First, let us go over what the Miranda Rights are:
- You have the right to remain silent.
- Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.
- You have a right to an attorney.
- If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.
If you are arrested and not informed of your Miranda Rights, you are being denied important Constitutional rights – but those rights are only valuable if you use them.
The Fifth Amendment protects people from self-incrimination. What you say during an arrest or questioning can hurt your case in court later. It is usually better to say nothing at all.
The Sixth Amendment grants you, among other things, the right to an attorney. This is true even if you cannot afford an attorney, so do not let your financial situation stop you from making the request.
Once you request an attorney, questioning must stop until the attorney is present. It is crucial to be decisive when making your request. Don’t just say, “I think I should have an attorney.” It’s possible this may not be considered invoking your rights. Instead, be clear: “I want an attorney. I won’t talk until the attorney is here.”
When deciding between a court-appointed attorney or hiring someone yourself, be aware that many court-appointed attorneys are brand new at their jobs and working under large caseloads. You may be lucky enough to get someone who is experienced in your type of case and able to give it the attention it deserves, or you may not.
Brooklyn Criminal Defense Attorney Explains the Origin of Miranda Rights
Before the Miranda Rights were established, it was easier for police officers to strongarm or trick suspects into making a confession. It was exactly this situation that lead to the establishment of the Miranda Rights.
In 1963, a man named Ernesto Miranda was suspected of kidnapping and raping an 18-year-old woman. He was arrested, interrogated, and signed a written confession which stated that he volunteered the confession and understood his legal rights.
However, he wasn’t informed. Miranda’s criminal attorney asked that the confession be excluded. The judge overruled the objection, and Miranda was sentenced to prison.
His lawyer’s appeal eventually made it to the US Supreme Court, and the conviction was overturned. Since he wasn’t informed of his rights, the confession was ruled inadmissible in court.
Due to that ruling, the police are required by law to read these rights when they arrest you. Otherwise, what you say to them cannot be used evidence against you.
When Police Officers Do Not Have to Read You Your Miranda Rights
It is important to note that if you are not in police custody, what you say can certainly be used against you in court. For this reason, sometimes police officers will interrogate suspects before arresting them. They arrest them only after the suspect says something incriminating.
Whenever you talk to a police officer, it is wise to bring legal counsel with you. Reach out to an experienced Brooklyn criminal defense attorney to protect your rights.