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Miranda Rights Misconceptions

The Miranda Warning, commonly known as being ‘Mirandized,’ is one of the most talked about and misunderstood aspects of criminal arrest and investigation.

“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? With these rights in mind, do you wish to speak to me?”

The drama of getting “cuffed” and being read your rights doesn’t always play out like you’ve seen on the silver screen; sometimes the real theatrics begin after you’ve been arrested without having heard the Miranda rights at all. In such instances it’s important to understand your rights and to be aware of the misconceptions surrounding an arrest, citation or police questioning.

The Miranda rights, or Miranda Warning, stems from the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. Statements made without a Miranda warning or valid waiver being given make the statements inadmissible at trial and may not be used as substantive evidence of guilt in criminal proceedings. The intent behind these rights is to protect the arrestee from being forced to answer self-incriminating questions.

Are You ‘Off The Hook’ If Your Rights Are Not Read?

One common misconception surrounding the Miranda rights is that you are “off the hook” if your rights are not read to you. Any statements you make prior to being read your rights cannot be used in court against you, however, your case can still be prosecuted. Another misunderstanding regarding the Miranda rights is that police are required to Mirandize a person; this is NOT the case. Police are only required to Mirandize a suspect if they intend to interrogate that person when they are in custody. The Miranda rights do not have to be given unless you are in custody and being interrogated about your crime or criminal activity and are not in effect until after an arrest is made.

You DO have the right to remain silent! If you indicate at any time before or during an interrogation that you wish to remain silent, that interrogation must end. The same is true in instances when an attorney is requested; the interrogation must cease until an attorney is present.

The arrestee can waive their rights expressly or implicitly; expressly by stating, or signing something stating, that you are waiving your right to remain silent or the right to have an attorney present. If you have been Mirandized and waive your rights, you are submitting to speaking openly with the police without the support of an attorney although you are still allowed the option to change your mind and request counsel at any point.

Your ability to “plead the fifth” is your right to protect yourself in a situation that may warrant silence. Do not hesitate to contact one of our criminal law attorneys if you’re facing criminal investigation or have been arrested or charged with a crime. Our attorneys have the knowledge and expertise to help you protect your rights.

References:

  • Miranda v. Arizona, 384 US 436 (1966).
  • https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/miranda_warning
  • https://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/384/436
  • http://www.mirandawarning.org/whatareyourmirandarights.html

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