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Miranda Rights | Henrico Bail Bonding

Miranda Rights | Henrico Bail Bonding

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Miranda Rights

The famous Miranda rights for criminal suspects, often heard recited in movies or on TV, came from the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case of Miranda v. Arizona and are based on the Fifth Amendment. The ruling in Miranda and subsequent cases provide criminal suspects with a number of rights when being questioned by law enforcement officers. Click on the links below for in-depth information on just what the Miranda rights are, when those rights apply, plus more information on the Fifth Amendment and police questioning.

Miranda v. Arizona
The Miranda rights take their name from the Supreme Court case Miranda v. Arizona. The warnings have been so commonly repeated in film and on TV that many non-attorneys can recite them from memory. 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 to you.

Miranda came out of a group of cases involving confessions given by particularly vulnerable defendants, many of whom were indigent and documented to have little or no education. The court found that although there was no evidence of physical coercion or patent psychological ploys there was, regardless, a failure to inform the accused of their rights that prevented their confessions from truly being the product of free choice.

The recitation of the traditional Miranda warnings is only part of the obligation, however. The warnings must be both given and understood by the accused.

Miranda Threatened
Although ubiquitous, the Miranda rights are not entirely secure from attack. As recently as 1999 the U.S. Supreme Court heard a case that threatened to undermine the Miranda holding. In Dickerson v. United States the District Court had suppressed the statement by the accused because it was made before Miranda warnings were given. The Court of Appeals found that a post-Miranda statute, part of the Omnibus Crime Control Act of 1968 that made all evidence voluntarily given admissible. The Court of Appeals felt that the Act, created by Congress, held precedence over the court’s previous interpretation.

The U.S. Supreme Court felt differently and held that Congress couldn’t overrule the court’s interpretation of constitutional protections. As a result, Miranda continues to remain the governing authority regarding the admissibility of statements made during custodial interrogation.

Invoking and Waiving Miranda Rights
To gain the full protection of the right to remain silent the suspect must unequivocally invoke the right. Just remaining silent does not mean that an interrogation has to stop. If the right to remain silent isn’t clearly invoked the police can continue or repeat attempts to question a suspect.

Even when the right is properly invoked it can subsequently be waived. Stating that you invoke your right to remain silent, and then proceeding to make voluntary statements will frequently result in a waiver of the previously-invoked rights.

Those accused of a crime should be careful to invoke their Miranda right to silence and be careful to avoid an inadvertent waiver of these rights. The invocation must be clear and unwavering.

Why Is It Called Miranda Rights?
The term “Miranda Rights” comes from a historic 1966 U.S. Supreme Court case called Miranda v. Arizona. The court held that if the police want to question (interrogate) a person in police custody, they must tell them of the Fifth Amendment protection against self-incriminating statements and their right to an attorney.

The following is an overview of your Fifth Amendment Miranda rights, including when police must read you your rights and what happens when they fail to do so.

What Are Your Miranda Rights?
The Miranda warning outlines the following rights:

  • 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
  • This means you can choose not to answer an officer’s questions and may request an attorney.

When Are Miranda Warnings Used?
While TV shows and movies often show officers giving the Miranda “warning” when they arrest someone, this is not always the reality. A police officer or other official must, by law, tell you the full Miranda warning before custodial interrogation starts. This type of interrogation happens when you are in police custody (when you have been arrested) and are being questioned. It can also be called “adversarial interrogation.”

Police do not always need to warn you about your rights during the arrest or while you are waiting at the jail. Simply being arrested or detained by police (in custody) does not mean you will hear the Miranda warning. You will hear it before the interrogation starts. If you don’t, law enforcement may have to throw out anything said in the interrogation.

In any case, it is advisable to stay silent to avoid saying anything that might make you look guilty whether you hear the warning or not. (Note that you may need to provide identification and answer basic questions.)

Fifth Amendment Miranda Rights at a Glance
Miranda rights are rooted in the Fifth Amendment’s protection against self-incrimination. Petitioner Ernesto Miranda confessed to a violent crime after two hours of police interrogation and signed a statement that he confessed: “with the full knowledge of [my] legal rights, understanding any statement I make may be used against me.” However, he was never explained these rights.

The Court ruled that the interrogation was coercive in nature and that he wasn’t informed about his right to an attorney. Therefore, they concluded, he didn’t voluntarily waive these rights when he signed the statement because he didn’t understand his rights. Had he retained legal counsel, he probably wouldn’t have been so forthcoming during the interrogation.

What if the Police Fail to Advise Me of My Miranda Rights?
When police officers question a suspect in custody without first giving the Miranda warning, any statement or confession made is presumed to be involuntary, and can’t be used against the suspect in any criminal case. Any evidence discovered as a result of that statement or confession will likely also be thrown out of the case.

For example, suppose Dan is arrested and, without being read his Miranda rights, is questioned by police officers about a bank robbery. Unaware that he has the right to remain silent, Dan confesses to committing the robbery and tells the police that the money is buried in his backyard. Acting on this information, the police dig up the money.

When Dan’s attorney challenges the confession in court, the judge will likely find it unlawful. This means that not only will the confession be thrown out of the case against Dan, but so will the money itself because it was discovered solely as a result of the unlawful confession.

Ask a Criminal Defense Attorney About Your Fifth Amendment Miranda Rights
If you believe that your Miranda rights have been violated, this can have a significant impact on your case and may even lead to a dismissal of any charges against you. That’s why it’s crucial to have a strong criminal defense lawyer in your corner. If you have important questions about criminal law or need representation, get started today by finding an experienced criminal defense attorney near you.