If the word Miranda rights don’t’ ring a bell, the rights itself will surely do. Miranda rights play a significant part in the overall legal process when someone is accused of a crime. Hence, it is essential to not only know your rights but also be aware of how to use them.
However, let us first take a look at what exactly Miranda rights are:
What is Meant by Miranda Rights?
Simply put, Miranda rights refer to the rights that a police officer is obliged to read out to a person before they interrogate them. It is your constitutional right to understand your rights after being arrested and taken into police custody. These are generally read out as something along these lines:
“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have a right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.”
While there may be some changes to the wording, the concept should be delivered to the defendant before the interrogation occurs. It is also essential to know that while many people have heard of these rights, they may not be able to make use of it properly if they ever find themselves in such a situation. Hence, it is crucial to understand them.
Why is it Called Miranda Rights?
Before moving forward with the main subject, if you are curious about how Miranda rights came into being, here is some information about the Miranda rights’ history:
In 1963, there was a case registered with the US Supreme Court, which is still regarded as Miranda v. Arizona. Four different cases were being addressed, and for each of them, an interrogation took place. The defendant was asked all kinds of questions and was unaware of his rights to remain silent or ask for an attorney. Hence, he ended up accepting the crimes and signing a full confession form, which clearly stated that he was aware of his rights.
While Ernesto Miranda (the defendant) was guilty and had charges held against him for the same, the court had to overturn their decision just because he was unaware of his rights. These rights are rooted in the fifth amendment for protection against self-incrimination and the sixth amendment, which is the right to counsel.
As a result, in 1966, it was declared that all criminal suspects should be informed of their rights before a custodial interrogation takes place to avoid such cases in the future.
When Can You Use Your Rights?
Now that you have a brief understanding of how these rights came into being, you should know when and how you can use them. This is significant because even if you haven’t committed a crime, there are chances for you to be falsely blamed. In such a situation, it is best to be aware of your rights so that you can use them when required.
Once the police/detective read them out to you, you are in the position to answer. You can either tell them that you choose to remain silent and ask for an attorney if you haven’t hired one yet. Additionally, if you feel like you are innocent and have an alibi, you should speak up to waive off the rights. However, you do have to answer questions because not doing so will mean that you haven’t fully understood the rights possibly because of a language barrier. In such a case, police officials will arrange a translator who can then read out your rights.
Even if you have waived the rights initially, you can still use your right to remain silent at any given point in time during the interrogation. You can also ask them to bring in your attorney and only speak after that or let them take care of it.
When Are Miranda Rights Not Applicable?
While these rights are to be read out to a defendant before interrogation, there are a couple of instances where they do not apply. These may include:
A situation where public safety is at risk. In such a case, the police have the right to ask you questions, and you have to answer them. Anything said in that period can be used against you in such a situation even without you being Mirandized.
Another instance is when you have willingly waived them off. Anything you say can be used against you in the court if you have waived your rights. Of course, you can remain silent at any given point as well.
Miranda rights wouldn’t apply when the police need to ask you basic questions about your identity. You have to provide them with that knowledge.
Difference Between Miranda Rights and Miranda Warning
These two terms are used interchangeably, so you don’t have to worry about both of them separately. However, to explain it in simple words, Miranda rights are classified as the rights that a citizen of the United States can practice. A Miranda warning is when a police officer informs you about your rights when in such a situation.
What if the Police Don’t Read My Miranda Rights?
With the law in place for this long, it is highly unlikely that the police will not read them out to you. However, before discussing the possible circumstances, you should know that law enforcement are not obliged to read them out to you at the arrest time. They only have to Mirandize you before they start a custodial interrogation.
It is also crucial to know that while some cases hold much importance for these rights, there can be cases where it will not have a significant impact on the overall results. For example, in a DUI case, Miranda rights may not be of great use to you, as a citizen. However, if it is a murder or any other criminal activity, these rights can make a lot of difference.
So, if you or your loved one ever end up in such a situation, you should know that if the police don’t read out your rights to you, any confession made during the interrogation can be counted as involuntary. This means that it will be of no use in the court. Additionally, even if the officers could produce evidence solely through such a confession, that evidence can also not be used against you. Hence, it is highly rare that the officer would not inform you of your rights.
Miranda Rights and Juveniles
Soon after the rights were declared, it was also made official for juvenile cases. However, things are much different and difficult when it comes to implementing them.
Research shows that even when the police read out the rights to a juvenile suspect, almost 90% of them tend to waive their rights. This is probably the case because they don’t even understand their rights properly. It could be because the stress of getting arrested reduces their comprehension skills by 20%. However, it is also deduced that they cannot even remember the rights completely right after they have been read aloud. Thus, Miranda rights may get even more complicated when a juvenile is involved.
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If you have been in a situation where you were not aware of your rights and faced the consequences because of that, contact us immediately so that our trained attorneys can help you out. Apart from that, if you have any other concerns or require legal consultancy, Ktenas Law is the answer to all your issues!