Most of us have heard the Miranda Rights mentioned in TV shows and movies. They are often rattled off when the bad guy is finally caught and arrested at the end of the episode. However, few people know why officers are required to spout the Miranda Warning, let alone know what the Miranda rights actually are.
Well, the truth is that knowing your Miranda Rights could mean the difference between years behind bars and being allowed to walk free.
The History of the Miranda Rights
In 1966, the Supreme Court ruled on the case of Miranda v. Arizona. In this case, Ernesto Miranda was questioned about the rape and kidnapping of a young Arizonan woman. The officers involved managed to extract a confession from him. However, Miranda later recanted the confession on the basis that he was unaware that he had the right to remain silent when being questioned. The confession itself was very short, and differed from the account given by the young woman (who was also unable to pick Miranda in a lineup). Unfortunately, despite all of this, Miranda was convicted of the crime.
A couple years later, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) began to look into the case, as Miranda had appealed the decision. The ACLU argued that the confession was coerced, and had Miranda known that he was allowed to say nothing, he would not have confessed to begin with. The case went all the way up to the Supreme Court, who ruled in Miranda’s favor. From then on, the Miranda Rights were established.
What the Miranda Rights Mean
You have likely seen cop show after cop show use the phrase “you have the right to remain silent” after arresting the criminal of the week. However, the Miranda Warning goes beyond that one phrase. During a Miranda Warning, an officer must inform you that:
- You have the right to 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
Each part informs arrestees of their rights in American criminal court. Essentially, you can choose to remain silent after an arrest, including during your interrogation. On top of that, you can have your attorney contacted and brought in right away. Both of these actions are incredibly beneficial when you are facing criminal charges.
Police officers are trained to get people to confess. Sadly, this includes false confessions as well. Their tactics can range from presenting bogus evidence, to offering friendship, to becoming aggressive and violent. These tactics can leave you feeling pressured to give the officers what they want, even if you know you didn’t commit the crime you were arrested for. Keeping silent is one of your greatest assets.
Even more important, however, is bringing in your lawyer. We understand how officers think and behave. We know what questions should be answered, and which ones shouldn’t be answered. Your attorney can help you provide the officers with the information they want, without incriminating yourself. Ultimately, your Miranda Rights are incredibly important when it comes to keeping yourself out of jail. However, what happens when officers fail to proper warn you?
When You Aren’t Read Your Miranda Rights
In media, it is popular to show a character, who is on trial for a crime, being let go because they were not read their Miranda rights. While officers are required to give a Miranda Warning to anyone they arrest and interrogate, failing to do so does not mean that the suspect is suddenly free. What it does mean is that any information gathered, or confessions given, during the interrogation are considered involuntary. This means that the information cannot be used in trial and must be thrown out.
Furthermore, any evidence gathered due to the confession is also considered inadmissible, meaning it cannot be used in trial. While the prosecution may elect to continue with the trial anyway, especially if they have evidence that does not hinge on the confession, the case against you would be far weaker.
While knowing your Miranda Rights can help you, the officers interrogating you will do everything they can to make you crack. The best way to avoid incriminating yourself is to immediately call an attorney. We at The Bussey Law Firm, P.C., are skilled criminal defense attorneys, with years of experience to lean on in court. If you are facing a potential arrest, or are already getting ready for a trial, call our firm at (719) 401-0585 for the strong defense that you need.