Miranda Rights Explained
The Miranda Warning has become a staple in American culture. Almost any American can recite for you the Miranda warning. “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you can not afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Do you understand these rights as they have been read to you?” What most people are not aware of, is the history of the Miranda Warning and more importantly when it applies. In fact, a large number of the American public has a MISCONCEPTION about when Miranda Rights apply and therefore could be forfeiting their rights because of this misconception. Below, this article will review where the Miranda rights came from as well as when they apply and what you should do, should you find yourself being arrested.
Miranda Rights were created from a case called, Miranda v. Arizona. In this case, the defendant, Ernesto Miranda, was interrogated for two hours regarding a kidnapping and rape. He signed a confession which included a statement that his confession was given voluntarily with a full understanding of his rights. Miranda was never read his rights (obviously, at that time the Miranda Warning was not a requirement). His was convicted and his case was appealed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which found in a 5-4 decision that certain Constitutional rights must be explained to the Defendant, after arrest, prior to any interrogation. Those rights, the 5th Amendment self-incriminating clause and the 6th Amendment right to counsel clause, must be explained before questioning a Defendant who has been arrested. If the Defendant states that they wish to remain silent, the interrogation must stop. If the Defendant states they want an attorney present, the interrogation must stop until an Attorney is present and the Defendant is given an opportunity to confer with their attorney. This case, which was decided 1966, has held true since then and is the reason now for the Miranda Warning.
As mentioned before, the Miranda Warning applies to a Defendant, after they arrested, before they can be questioned. Some people incorrectly believe that they must be given their Miranda Warning before anything they say can be used against them, even before arrest. Other people understand the fact that it applies after arrest, but do not have a correct understanding of exactly WHEN, after the arrest, they apply. There are many Americans who believe that, if they have not been Mirandized at the time of their arrest, their statements cannot be used against them, or even that their arrest is unconstitutional, and therefore their charges should be thrown out. All of these ideas of the Miranda Warning are incorrect. What these people do not understand is, they ONLY have to be Mirandized AFTER they are arrested, but BEFORE they are questioned or interrogated.
Police Officers DO NOT have to provide the Miranda Warning before arrest. Anything you say to the Officer before you are placed under arrest can be used against you. Even when you are arrested, the officer is still not required to provide the Miranda Warning so long as they don’t ask you any questions. Many defendants have had incriminating statements used against them solely because they started making statements (called ‘spontaneous statements’), after they were arrested, thinking they were safe since they had not been given the Miranda Warning.
Any time you have an encounter with a Police Officer, always be polite and cooperative, but NEVER say anything incriminating. If you are arrested, do not make any statements. Invoke your right to counsel and your right to remain silent. Speak with an attorney as soon as possible to discuss what options you have available.
Though this article covers the basics of the Miranda Warning, there can be specifics as it applies to your individual case. If you have questions about your case, always speak with a local criminal attorney as they will be best suited to advice you on your case in your jurisdiction.