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Guide to Your Miranda Rights

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When we face arrest in the United States, the Constitution affords us with certain rights. Under the Fifth Amendment, we have the right to trial under the due process of law. We also have the right to an attorney and to protection against self-incriminating statements.

Law enforcement officers must recite a statement, known as Miranda Rights, prior to interrogation to inform arrestees of these rights and comply with constitutional law. If a law enforcement officer places you under custodial interrogation without reading your Miranda Rights, additional rules may apply.

What Are the Miranda Rights?

The 1966 U.S. Supreme Court case Miranda v. Arizona established the concept of Miranda Rights to comply with the Fifth Amendment of the United States. Based on this court decision, police officers and other officials must recite your full Miranda Rights prior to performing custodial interrogation. This interrogation occurs after an arrest when officers question you about the crime you may face charges for.

The Miranda warning outlines four basic rights every arrestee is entitled to.

  • You have the right to remain silent.
  • Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.
  • You have the right to an attorney.
  • If you cannot afford an attorney, the court will appoint one for you.

Contrary to media portrayals, police officers do not have to read your full Miranda Rights during an arrest. The law only requires officers to recite these rights prior to custodial interrogation. In any case, it is important to exercise these rights; stay silent to avoid making self-incriminating statements and contact an attorney as soon as possible following your arrest.

If you are not under arrest or in police custody, the police do not have to read your Miranda Rights and can use any statement you make during the interrogation as evidence. If you make an incriminating statement, however, the police may subsequently arrest you. The police cannot arrest you for refusing to answer questions prior to an arrest, but you may need to provide information such as identification to the police officers. In these situations, it is advisable to stay silent and comply with providing this basic information.

What if You Didn’t Hear Your Miranda Rights During an Arrest?

It is a common myth that if a police officer does not recite the Miranda warning during an arrest, the police must release a suspect from custody. This does not happen; you can face arrest and go to the police station and not hear the Miranda warning for most of your detainment.

An officer must recite your Miranda Rights prior to any custodial interrogation, whether it happens at the police station, at the scene of a crime, or anywhere else where you are in custody. If the police want to gain evidence from your statement, you must hear these rights. If an officer begins questioning you without reciting your Miranda rights, these rules change.

Without hearing your Miranda Rights, the court will presume any statement or confession you make during this time is involuntary. If the police or prosecution attempt to use any evidence they discover as a result of this statement against you, the court will likely throw it out. If you believe this violation may apply to your case, speak to your criminal attorney as soon as possible to discuss your legal options.

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