The Importance of Miranda Rights in Criminal Cases
In 1966, the Supreme Court case Arizona v. Miranda established that suspects taken into police custody to be questioned must be informed of their constitutional rights against self-incrimination . In the case, Ernesto Miranda was taken into custody for kidnapping and rape charges and confessed to them before he was told he had the right to an attorney and the right to remain silent. The case was taken to the Supreme Court, which ruled that the confession could not be used as evidence because he was not informed of his rights prior to the confession. This Supreme Court ruling has shaped how various criminal cases are prosecuted today, and many people have at least heard the Miranda rights on shows such as “Cops,” even if they do not understand them.
What Are Your Miranda Rights?
Prior to interrogation, police must inform you of your constitutional rights. Because of the Supreme Court case, the rights are now known as the Miranda rights, or the Miranda warning. The Miranda warning must include some variation of:
“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, one will be provided for you. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you?”
Though the wording varies from state to state and between police departments, the Miranda warning must always get the same meaning across, and the suspect must confirm that he understands his rights.
The Right to Remain Silent
Despite the Miranda rights providing some protection to those suspected of a crime, they do have their limitations. Miranda rights do not actually go into effect unless you are 1) in custody (which can occur even without an arrest) and 2) where the police ask you questions. It is important to note that Miranda warnings are not a per se rule of an arrest. Miranda warnings are only required if the police decide to ask you questions once you are in custody. Therefore, you can go through an entire arrest without being advised of your Miranda rights, provided that no questions were asked of you.
Obviously, if the police ask you questions prior to a custodial arrest and you provide them answers, those answers can be used against you. Similarly, if you are arrested and you begin providing voluntary statements, those can be used against you in court as well.
As a general rule, if the police are asking you about a crime, it is suggested that you request to speak to a criminal defense attorney first.
Seek Help From a Joliet Criminal Defense Attorney
Since their inception, the Miranda rights have enabled suspects of criminal charges to exercise their constitutional rights against self-incrimination. When you are arrested or taken in for police questioning, you have the right to seek legal advice from an experienced Will County criminal defense attorney --a right which you should always exercise. If you find yourself in that situation, you should contact the Law Offices of Jack L. Zaremba, P.C. to get legal help. Call our office at 815-740-4025 to set up a free consultation.