We have all seen it on TV and in the movies: a suspenseful investigation or a police chase ends with a suspect in handcuffs, and as the scene fades into the credits, an officer begins to speak, “You have the right to remain silent…” You probably know that the statements being recited are collectively known as the Miranda warnings or Miranda Rights, but there are certain things to keep in mind in the event you are ever arrested and charged with a crime.
The Miranda warnings consist of four specific points. The exact wording of the warnings may vary but the suspect must be informed that:
- He or she has the right to remain silent;
- Anything that is said can be used as evidence in court;
- He or she has the right to have an attorney present during questioning; and
- If the suspect cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for him or her.
Contrary to popular belief, a suspect does not need to be given the Miranda warnings immediately upon arrest. The United States Supreme Court ruled in Miranda v. Arizona in 1966 that a suspect must be reminded of his or her rights prior to a “custodial interrogation,” But, what does that mean in practice? It means that a police officer is under no obligation to read Miranda warnings unless the person “has been taken into custody or otherwise deprived of his freedom of action in any significant action. For example, a discussion during a traffic stop would not require Miranda warnings. If, however, the suspect was handcuffed and placed in the back of a police car—regardless of an official arrest—the officer would need to give the Miranda warnings before asking any questions or risk having the entire exchange be thrown out in court.
Miranda “Warnings” vs. Miranda “Rights”
When referring to the Miranda statements, people often use the words “warnings” and “rights” interchangeably. This is understandable, but the ruling in Miranda did not give criminal suspects new rights regarding remaining silent or access to an attorney. These rights are already guaranteed by the Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Instead, the Supreme Court’s decision in Miranda created a new right for suspects to be reminded of their constitutional rights before being questioned. As such, the series of statements became known as the Miranda warnings—based primarily, it would seem, on the admonition that anything the suspect says can and will be used against him or her in a court of law.
If you or someone you love was arrested and interrogated without being read the Miranda warnings, contact an experienced Will County criminal defense attorney to explore your options. Call 815-740-4025 for a free, confidential consultation today. We will work hard to keep you out of jail and to protect your long-term future.