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Breaking Down the Miranda Rule

Posted on 06/27/23

Miranda Rights are a direct result of the landmark Supreme Court case, Miranda v. Arizona. In this 1966 case, the defendant was accused of kidnapping and rape. During a police interrogation, he confessed to his crimes without being informed of his rights against self-incrimination and right to counsel. 

After appealing to the Supreme Court, it was ruled that his confession had been obtained in violation of his Constitutional rights, ultimately leading to new guidelines for handling criminal suspects. All defendants must be read the Miranda warnings before any questioning is to take place:

 “You have the 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 provided for you. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you? With these rights in mind, do you wish to speak to me?”

To break it down even further, it’s helpful to look at each part:

1. Right to Remain Silent

Among the Miranda Rights, the right to remain silent is perhaps the most well-known. This right exists to help defendants avoid incriminating themselves through coercive means, whether through physical or psychological pressure from law enforcement.

Police officers must express this warning to suspects to inform them of their right to remain silent. Deciding to invoke this right is a personal decision, and it is essential for individuals to be aware of their options when interacting with law enforcement.

2. Anything You Say Can Be Used Against You

Another key warning in the Miranda Rights is that anything a defendant says while in custody can be used against them in court. This component of the Miranda Rule emphasizes the importance of speaking with legal counsel before engaging in any conversation with law enforcement officers.

3. You Have The Right to Consult with an Attorney Before and During Questioning

Another crucial right outlined in this warning is the ability to consult with an attorney before and during any questioning by the police.

Having legal representation present during questioning is crucial for many reasons:

  • Understanding the interrogation process: An attorney can help guide you through the interrogation process, ensuring you understand your rights and the consequences of any statements you make.
  • Protecting against self-incrimination: The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees that no one can be compelled to serve as a witness against themselves in a criminal case. Receiving proper legal advice before answering questions can help protect you from self-incrimination.
  • Assessing the strength of the case against you: With the help of a lawyer, you can determine whether the charges against you are solid or if there might be legal avenues to have them dismissed or reduced.

Remember that once you request an attorney, the police must cease questioning until your lawyer arrives. 

4. If You Cannot Afford to Hire an Attorney, One Will Be Appointed To You at No Cost

In addition to the right to consult with an attorney, the Miranda warning also guarantees that if you cannot afford to hire a criminal defense lawyer, one will be provided for you free of charge. 

Under this rule, if you indicate that you cannot afford a lawyer, the court will appoint a public defender to represent you. Public defenders are licensed attorneys who specialize in representing individuals without the means to hire private counsel. While public defenders may be juggling a heavy caseload, their primary function is to zealously advocate on behalf of their clients and ensure their rights are protected.

5. You Can Stop Questioning and Ask For a Lawyer At Any Time

A suspect has the option to invoke their right to counsel at any point during questioning, even after they’ve begun answering questions. Police must immediately cease questioning once the right to counsel has been invoked. Interrogation can only resume if the suspect initiates further communication or after their attorney is present.

If you have any questions or need help on any type of criminal matter, contact us today to schedule a free consultation.