Exploring Civil Case Proceedings

Exploring Civil Case Proceedings

Understanding Your Miranda Rights: What You Need To Know

by Becky Freeman

To make sure that suspects cannot accuse police officers of coercing information, United States criminal law mandates the use of Miranda rights. The Miranda warning is a legal requirement across the United States, and police officers must adhere strictly to the law when dealing with suspects. Learn more about the steps a police officer must take if he or she suspects you of committing a crime, and find out when evidence can become inadmissible in these circumstances.

History of the Miranda warning

The Miranda warning came into effect in 1966, following a high-profile court case involving a man named Ernesto Arturo Miranda. During the case, the Supreme Court found that the police had violated the suspect's rights during his arrest and trial for various crimes. Following the case, the Miranda warning became mandatory in certain situations.

The Miranda safeguards are mandatory before the police can take a suspect into custody (formal arrest or loss of freedom to the same extent). The rules also apply before an interrogation, where the police will use questioning to get a response that may incriminate the suspect. In American English, some legal professionals now use the verb mirandize, which refers to the reading of a Miranda warning to a suspect.

What a police officer must tell you

A Miranda warning makes sure that you fully understand the legal implications of the situation you face. If an officer intends to take you into custody or interrogate you, he or she must tell you that:

  • You don't have to say anything
  • The courts can use anything you choose to say as evidence against you
  • You can have a lawyer during your questioning
  • The courts can appoint a lawyer for you if you cannot afford one

Contrary to popular belief, police officers do not need to recite the Miranda warning according to any set wording. The courts will accept any Miranda warning, provided that it meets the four requirements above. That aside, most police forces train officers to recite the warning word perfectly, as this leaves no room for misinterpretation.

Details you should know

In order to continue with the interrogation, the police officer must get a clear, affirmative answer from the suspect. The officer cannot accept silence as a waiver of the suspect's rights, as the suspect may not speak English or may not understand.

An interrogation cannot continue if you say at any time before or during questioning that you want to remain silent. Similarly, if you tell the officer that you want an attorney at any time, the questioning must stop until the lawyer arrives.

Despite what you may see in films and TV shows, police officers do not need to give a Miranda warning before every arrest. The officer only needs to issue the warning if he or she intends to interrogate you under custody. An officer can arrest you without issuing a warning, but if he or she then decides to interrogate you, you must receive the warning before the questioning starts.

If you waive your rights to an attorney, you can change your mind at any point during the interrogation. You can also plead to remain silent at any time, but you must still give your name, age and address. You must also still consent to a search.

What happens when you don't receive a Miranda warning

When a police officer fails to give you the right warnings, any information you give becomes inadmissible in court. In legal terms, the Miranda warning guarantees that the suspect understands his or her rights and is not subject to police coercion. Without the warning, the court will not accept that you offered the information of your own free will.

That aside, every criminal case is different, and exceptions to the rule continue to take place. For example, information that an officer obtains without the Miranda warning is generally inadmissible to prove guilt, but the courts may still accept the information to support a harsher sentence if the prosecution still gets a guilty verdict.

Similarly, lawyers can still sometimes use evidence obtained without a Miranda warning in certain circumstances. For example, the courts may decide that the police would have discovered the information anyway (inevitable discovery). They may also allow information obtained illegally from one witness to direct the police to another witness who then gives the same information legally after a Miranda warning.

The courts can even use silence against a suspect. In a 2013 case, the Supreme Court accepted pre-Miranda silence as admission of guilt because the suspect chose to answer other questions and only remained silent for one question.

In any criminal case, it is highly advisable that you ask for an criminal attorney as soon as possible. The Miranda law applies a vital safeguard, but only a criminal attorney can offer robust, accurate advice in each case.


About Me

Exploring Civil Case Proceedings

Hello and welcome, I'm Winfred Paulo. I have a passion for civil court cases of all kinds. Some time back, I ended up in the thick of a civil case after a lengthy dispute with my neighbor. The dispute went on for years and ended badly with an incident that landed us both in court. We had to prove our side of the case in an effort to obtain a positive outcome and recoup our losses. Unfortunately, I lost the case due to a lack of evidence. Since then, I've maintain a strong interest in civil cases and their proceedings. I will share information about civil cases on this site to help others understand these proceedings better. I may talk about legal terms, and expected outcomes for each case type. I hope you visit often to learn more. Thanks for stopping by my website.