Even if you have never been involved with the police in real life, chances are you are at least passingly familiar with the Miranda warning, which police officers are supposed to tell you when you get arrested. This warning, which tells criminal suspects about their basic constitutional rights, is considered an essential part of the law, but the public often misunderstands their Miranda rights. Here are five things you should know about your Miranda rights, just in case you ever have a bad encounter with the police:
- Police don’t need to warn you if you are not under arrest
- Miranda warnings are specifically given to people who are placed under arrest by the police. However, the police can still talk to you without needing to read you your Miranda rights, so long as you are not placed under arrest. That is why many police officers will prefer to have potential suspects interviewed informally before arresting them, where they are less likely to invoke their rights and more likely to say something potentially incriminating.
- Any statement given before you are read your rights is inadmissible
- If you give a statement to the police while you are under arrest, including a confession, before you have been read your Miranda rights, it is inadmissible in court. The police know this, though, and will sometimes trick people into giving a confession before they were read their rights, and simply repeating it again afterwards. This is part of why you cannot rely on the police to help you enforce your own legal rights.
- If you want to invoke your rights, you need to say it explicitly
- Another important thing to understand is that the police do not have a legal responsibility to grant you your rights unless you explicitly ask for them. In other words, you cannot invoke your right to remain silent by simply refusing to answer questions, nor do you get a lawyer simply because you are in a police interrogation. You need to specifically invoke your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent to get them to stop interrogating you, and you need to specifically ask for an attorney to get a chance to contact one.
- You can waive your Miranda rights
- Everyone has a right to an attorney and a right to remain silent, but those rights can be waived with your permission. In other words, even though you have a right to remain silent and a right to an attorney, the police are allowed to interrogate you so long as you give them permission to do so. Usually, this takes the form of a card which you fill out, stating that you have been read your rights and agree to waive them. Do not sign this card until you have fully considered the consequences of doing so, because afterwards the police can interview you without needing to give you a chance to invoke your Miranda rights.
- To get the best odds, take advantage of your rights
- The police do not like it when people take advantage of their Miranda rights, because it makes it harder for them to pin crimes on people. While there are never any guarantees in any legal case, exercising your Miranda rights will give you the best possible chance of success in your criminal suit. That is why you should make sure to contact an attorney as soon as possible, who can advise you on your legal strategy and help you protect your interests.
Fox Law Firm, PLLC is a New York criminal law practice serving clients throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties. With more than three decades of criminal and personal injury law practice experience, we have helped our clients get favorable outcomes in criminal cases of all types. If you have been arrested, give our Riverhead office a call at 631-779-3400 or visit our contact page for a consultation.