Do you know your Miranda rights? These are some of the most important rights any American citizen has. However, not many people know or even understand these rights. They may have heard them recited in television programs, but never actually thought about their impact or importance.
Why Miranda Rights?
The name Miranda Rights comes from the landmark Miranda vs. Arizona case decided in 1966 by the US Supreme Court. The Court declared it illegal to question a person when they were taken into custody before ensuring that they knew and understood their rights under the Fifth Amendment not to make self-incriminating statements.
Following this case, anyone who is taken under police custody must be made aware of four things before they are questioned. These are:
- Their right to remain silent
- That anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law
- Their right to have a lawyer
- Their right to an attorney appointed by the state if you are unable to afford one of your own.
What Miranda Rights Mean to You
If you’ve been taken into custody by police, you are protected by the Fifth Amendment. Miranda rights ensure that you:
- Don’t have to talk to the police if you choose not to.
- Understand that everything you say to the police can be used as evidence in a court of law.
- You can choose to have an attorney present when being questioned by the police.
- You can have a public attorney appointed to represent you at no expense to you if you can’t afford a private attorney of your own.
- If you choose to talk to the police, you can stop talking whenever you want.
While you’re protected by Miranda Rights, it is important to understand what they do and do not cover as well as how they can affect your case.
- The police are required to give Miranda warnings
If the police don’t give you a Miranda warning before questioning you while you’re under arrest, a court may prevent the prosecutor from using what you say as evidence against you.
- Miranda warnings only cover what you say
Miranda warnings cover only things you say and not what you do. E.g. video evidence against you can be permitted in court even without the issuing of a Miranda warning prior to recording.
- Miranda warnings only apply to questioning by police
Miranda rights only cover what you say while being questioned by the police and not what you say to other people while in custody. Another criminal’s testimony of your confession about a crime can still be used against you.
If you have been arrested or taken in for questioning, always ask for a lawyer before speaking with the police. In Hartford, Connecticut, contact criminal defense attorney Andrew Cates.