As a United States citizen, you have certain rights under the law. If you are taken into police custody, the arresting officer must inform you of your constitutional rights.
That statement is known as the Miranda Warning. What is it, and why is it essential for someone to know it?
Invoking your constitutional rights
The Miranda Warning is named after a Supreme Court case that states when taking a person into custody before they can be questioned, they must be informed of the following rights:
- To remain silent. Anything they say can be used against them in court proceedings
- To have an attorney with them during questioning
- To have an attorney appointed for them if they can’t afford one
The purpose of the Miranda Warning is to protect the suspect’s Fifth Amendment rights that allow them to refuse to answer any questions that may incriminate them.
However, the warning doesn’t have to be read until the suspect is actually in custody and before they are interrogated. Therefore, anything said before the arrest can be used in court.
Besides protecting against self-incrimination, there are several reasons why invoking your Miranda rights is important, including:
- Having legal counsel present while you are being questioned
- Preventing coercion or intimidation by law enforcement
- Allowing you to make an informed decision about how you will interact with law enforcement
If you’re in police custody and haven’t been read your Miranda rights before interrogation, any statements you make may be inadmissible in court. In addition to failing to read the Miranda warning, there are other ways your rights may be violated, such as:
- Misrepresenting the warning
- Continuing to question you after you stated you wish to remain silent or request an attorney
- Tricking you into waiving your rights
- Not allowing you access to an attorney
The Miranda Warning is in place to protect the rights of everyone. If you believe your rights were violated, it’s crucial to work with someone who will help you build a strategic defense.