What Are Miranda Rights?

SQ Attorneys

The Miranda rights you often hear recited come from the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case Miranda v. Arizona. The Supreme Court’s rulings in Miranda and later cases require law enforcement officers to inform suspects in police custody of their constitutional rights before questioning them.

The Miranda warning apprises the suspect of the following: 1) You have the right to remain silent; 2) Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law; 3) You have the right to an attorney; 4) If you cannot afford an attorney, the court will appoint one for you.

The Miranda warning thus informs a suspect of their right against self-incrimination per the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution. It also apprises them of their Sixth Amendment right to have a criminal defense attorney present during an interrogation. The law requires police to read Miranda rights to a criminal suspect before they begin a custodial interrogation.

Miranda came out of a group of cases involving confessions given by particularly vulnerable defendants. The Supreme Court found that the police failed to inform the accused of their rights. This failure, the court said, prevented the defendants’ confessions from truly being the product of free choice.

Reciting the Miranda warnings is only part of the obligation, though. A defendant must not only receive the warning but also understand it.

Once law enforcement Mirandizes a suspect, officers may begin questioning them. Custodial interrogation occurs after law enforcement takes the arrestee into police custody. Such an interrogation often occurs at the police station.

As recently as 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court decided a case that threatened to undermine Miranda. In Dickerson v. United States, a district court suppressed the accused’s statement because he made it before law enforcement read him the Miranda warning.

A court of appeals found that a post-Miranda statute, part of the Omnibus Crime Control Act of 1968, made all voluntarily given evidence admissible. The appellate court felt that the act, created by Congress, held precedence over the court’s previous interpretation.

The U.S. Supreme Court overruled the appellate court. The Supreme Court held that Congress could not overrule the court’s interpretation of constitutional protections. As a result, Miranda remains the governing authority regarding the admissibility of statements made during custodial interrogations.

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 police must stop their interrogation. To invoke their right, a suspect can simply state something to the effect of, “I invoke my right to remain silent.” The invocation must be clear and unwavering.

If the suspect does not clearly invoke their right, the police may continue to question them. They may also make repeat attempts to question the suspect.

If you or a loved one is in a bind as a result of a criminal charge, immediately contact a Seattle Criminal Attorney. A Criminal lawyer is not going to judge you and understands that everyone makes mistakes. Hiring a Seattle Criminal Lawyer to help can – at a minimum – reduce penalties and can help direct people on how to best deal with their criminal charge, and many times even get them dismissed. So, it should go without saying that someone cited for a misdemeanor or felony should hire a qualified Seattle Criminal Lawyer as soon as possible. Criminal charges can cause havoc on a person’s personal and professional life. Anyone charged with a crime in Washington State should immediately seek the assistance of a seasoned Seattle Criminal Lawyer. SQ Attorneys can be reached at (425) 359-3791 and/or (206) 441-0900.

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