Dekalb County Attorney
Most Americans are familiar with the term Miranda rights. Some might be able to recite a few of the lines, especially those that are cited in movies, television, and music. While the average American might understand the importance of being read his or her rights, they might not be completely informed about what the Miranda rights truly mean. In this post, a Dekalb County attorney clarifies what Miranda rights are.
What are Miranda Rights?
Miranda rights, also known as the Miranda warning is a description of an individual’s rights after they have been taken into police custody. Typically the individual will be considered a suspect in a criminal investigation, but needn’t yet be charged with a crime.
The Miranda Rights as are follows:
“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 have an attorney. If you cannot afford one, one will be appointed to you by the court. With these rights in mind, are you still willing to talk with me about the charges against you?”
Every state may have its own variation on the Miranda warning and most will be something similar to the above. Sometimes it is required by law that the police officer ask the individual if they understand these rights. The individual may be advised of these rights either in writing or verbally. By law, police are also supposed to take into consideration the education and language level of the individual. Unfortunately, this law is not always adhered to.
At this time, the courts do not mandate police to explain these rights. For example, police are not required to advise the individual that an interrogation can be stopped at any time. They also do not need to inform the individual that the decision to invoke their Miranda rights cannot be used against them. Furthermore, “You have the right to have an attorney,” does not only mean that an individual has the right to an attorney while being interrogated. Rather, they have the right to:
- Speak with an attorney before choosing to talk to the police,
- Consult with an attorney before being interrogated,
- Answer ONLY through an attorney.
When the Miranda Rights Apply to a Situation
Many people believe that a police officer must read the Miranda rights as soon as a person is under arrest; for example, just prior to being put into a police vehicle. This is not true. There must be two conditions met before the Miranda rights will be read. One, the individual must be in the custody of police, and two, the individual must be under interrogation. If these conditions are not present, the Miranda warning does not need to be read. Bear in mind that when this applies police CAN use anything you say against you in a court of law.
Understanding Police Custody
In general, police custody is when you are deprived of your freedom. Typically, you will have been arrested to be in police custody. It does not apply to situations that may involve a police officer approaching you on the street to ask a question.
An interrogation typically begins when a police officer asks the individual various questions that could insinuate or implicate him or her in a crime. At this time, you might not have been arrested or charged.
Changes in the Supreme Court
The Supreme Court has recently made changes to the Miranda warning rules and regulations. Part of these changes include the ability for police officers to conduct a second round of questioning two weeks after the investigation, even if the individual opted to invoke his or her Miranda rights. At this second round, according to the Supreme Court’s ruling, police do not need to read the individuals Miranda rights because the first one will still be in effect.
When Your Miranda Rights Are Not Read
If you have not been read your Miranda rights, and both conditions apply, your case is not considered to be invalid or dismissable. Rather, any information obtained by police cannot be used in court. For example, if you admitted to selling narcotics, the court cannot use this confession unless police are able to show they would have found evidence that proves your guilt.
A Final Say
It is important to note that your Miranda rights will only be read to you when you are in custody and being interrogated. If you are being asked for an ID, you should provide it. Anything beyond this, it is highly recommended to remain silent to the very best of your ability. Call Andrew Lynch, P.C., a Dekalb County attorney as soon as possible.