If you have ever seen a crime show on television, you have likely heard an officer say the words, “You have the right to remain silent” after arresting someone. The officer often goes on to read off other rights to the alleged perpetrator. While these tv shows are not generally accurate or realistic, these rights, known as Miranda rights, do exist in real life.
What are Miranda rights?
The Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution protects people from self-incrimination. Following the 1966 Supreme Court case of Miranda v. Arizona, an officer must read a person their “Miranda rights” before interrogating them, to protect their Fifth Amendment rights. Officers will generally say:
- 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 appointed for you.
Once the Miranda Warning has been given, the interrogation may begin. If the suspect says that they wish to remain silent or requests an attorney, the interrogation must cease. If the suspect chooses to speak without an attorney being present after the Warning has been given, they have waived their Miranda rights. However, they can change their mind and stop speaking at any time.
Getting arrested or accused of a violent crime is an overwhelming experience for many people. As a result, it is easy to accidentally make incriminating statements to law enforcement officials that will be used against you later. If you have been accused of a crime, it is generally in your best interest not to speak without your attorney present.
If an officer fails to read you your Miranda rights or continues to interrogate you after you have asked for an attorney, your attorney can help make sure that any statements you may have made are inadmissible at a trial.